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Full text of "The Dickens-Collins Christmas Stories: Comprising No Thoroughfare and The Two Idle Apprentices"

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1 






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HARVARD COLLEGE 
LIBRARY 

THE BEQUEST OF 
EVERT JANSEN WENDELL 

(CLASS 0F1SB2) 
OF NEW VORK 

1918 














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PRONTIS 


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THE 



Dickens-Collins 

CHRISTMAS STORIES 

COMPRISING 
NO THOROUGHFARE 

AND 

THE TWO IDLE APPRENTICES 



BY 

CHARLES DICKENS and WILKIE COLLINS 




BOSTON 

WILLIAM F GILL & COMPANY 

309 Washington St. Opposite Old South Church 

1876 



f ^ 



MAAV/iHO COLLEGE LIBRARY 

FROM 

THE BEQUEST OF 

EVERT MN8EN WENDELL 

1918 



Copyright, 

WiLUAM F. Gill & Cow 

1875. 



NO THOROUGHFARE 



BY 

CHARLES DICKENS AND WILKIE COLLINS 



BOSTON 
WILLIAM F. GILL & COMPANY. 

309 WASHINGTON STREET. 
1876. 



•2_\-f<o^v. 1^.-] 



CONTENTS. 



Paoi. 
THE OVERTURE , 5 

ACT I. 

THE CURTAIN RISES 13 

ENTER THE HOUSEKEEPER 22 

TBE HOUSEKEEPER SPEAKS 26 

NEW CHARACTERS ON THE SCENE 36 

EXIT -WILDING 55 

ACT n. 

VENDALE MAKES LOVE 72 

VENDALE MAKES MISCHIEF 92 

ACT m. 

IN THE VALLEY 107 

ON THE MOUNTAIN 122 

ACT IV. 

the clock-lock 133 

obenreizer's victory * 147 

the curtain falls 157 






t 



NO THOROUGHFARE. 



THE OVERTURE. 

DAY of the month and year, JvTovember the thirtieth, 
one thousand eight hundred and thirty-five. London 
Time by the great clock of St. Paul's, ten at night. All 
the lesser London churches strain their metallic throats. 
Some, flippantly begin before the heavy bell of the great 
cathedral ; some, tardily begin three, four, half a dozen, 
strokes behind it, all are in sufficiently near accord to leave 
a resonance in the air^ as if the winged father who devours 
his childi'en, had made a sounding sWeep with his gigantic 
scythe in flying over the city. 

What is this clock lower than most of the rest, and 
nearer to the ear, that lags so far behind to-night as to 
strike into the vibration alone ? This is the clock of the 
Hospital foi* Foundling Children. Time was, when the 
Foundlings were received without question in a cradle at 
the gate. Time is, when inquiries are made respecting 
them, and they are taken as by favor from the mothers who 
relinquish all natural knowledge of them and claim to them 
for evermore. 

The moon is at the full, and the night is fair with light 
clouds. The day has been otherwise than fairj for slush 



6 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

and mud, thickened with the droppings of heavy fog, lie 
black in the streets. The veiled lady who flutters up and 
down near the postern-gate of the Hospital for Foundling 
Children has need to be well shod to-night. 

She flutters to and fro, avoiding the stand of hackney- 
coaches, and often pausing in the shadow of the western 
end of the great quadrangle wall, with her face turned 
towards the gate. As above her there is tlie purity of the 
moonlit sky, and below her there are the defilements 
of the pavement, so may she, haply, be divided in her 
mind between two vistas of reflection or experience ? 
As her footprints crossing and recrossing one another have 
made a labyrinth in the mire, so may her track in life 
have involved itself in an intricate and unravellable tangle. 
The postern-gate of the Hospital for Foundling Children 
opens, and a young woman comes out. The lady stands 
aside, observes closely, sees that the gate is quietly closed 
again from within, and follows the young woman. 

Two or three streets have been traversed in silence before 
she, following close behind the object of her attention, 
stretches out her hand and touches her. Then the young 
woman stops and looks round startled. 

** You touched me last night, and, when I turned my head, 
you would not speak. Why do you follow me like a 
silent ghost?" 

" It was not," returned the lady, in a low voice, " that I 
would not speak, but that I could not when I tried." 

" Wliat do you want of me ? I have never done you 
any harm ? " 

" Never." 

" Do I know you ? " 

" No." 

" Then what can you want of me ? " 

" Herfe are two guineas in this paper. Take my little 
present, and I will tell you." 



THE OVERTURE. 7 

Into the young woman's face which is honest and comely, 
comes a flush as she replies : " There is neither grown per- 
son nor child in all the large establishment that I belong to, 
who hasn't a good word for Sally. I am Sally. Could I 
be so well thought of, if I was to be bought ? '* 

" 1 do not mean to buy you ; I mean only to reward you 
very slightly." 

Sally firmly, but not ungently, closes and puts back the 
offering hand. " If there is anything I can do for you ma'am 
that I will not do for its own sake, you are much mistaken 
in me if you think that 1 will do it for money. What is it 
you want ? " 

" You are one of the nurses or attendants at the Hospi- 
tal, T saw you leave to-night and last night." 

" Yes, I am. I am Sally." 

" There is a pleasant patience in your face which makes 
me believe that very young children would take readily to 
you." 

" God bless 'em ! So they do." 

The lady lifts her veil, and shows a face no older than 
the nurse's. A face far more refined and capable than 
hers, but wild^nd worn with sorrow. 

" I am the miserable mother of a baby lately received un- 
der your care. I have a prayer to make to you." 

Instinctively respecting the confidence which has drawn 
aside the veil, Sully — whose ways are all ways of simpli- 
city and spontaneity — replaces it, and begins to cry. 

** You will listen to my prayer ? " the lady urges. 
" You will not be deaf to the agonized entreaty of such 
a broken suppliant as I am? " 

" Oh dear, dear, dear ! " cries Sally. " What shall I 
say, or what can I say ! Don't talk of prayers. Prayers 
are to be put up to the Good Father of All, and not to 
nurses and such". And th3re ! I am only to hold my 
place for half a year longer, till another young woman 

1* 



8 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

can be trained up to it. I am going to be married. I 
shouldn't havo been out last night, but that my Dick (he 
is the young man I am to be married to) lies ill, and I help 
his mother and sister to watch him. Don't take on so, 
don't take on so !" 

** Oh, good Sally, dear Sally," moans the lady, catching 
at her dress entreatingly. " As you are hopeful and I 
am hopeless ; as a fair way in life is before you, which can 
never, never be before me ; as you can aspire to become 
a respected wife, as you can aspire to become a proud 
mother ; as you are a living loving woman, and must die » 
for God's sake hear my distracted petition !" 

" Deary, deary, deary, me ! " cries Sally, her despera- 
tion culminating in the pronoun, " what am I ever to do ? 
And there ! See how you turn my words back upon me. 
I tell you I am going to be married on purpose to make 
it clearer to you that I am going to leave, and therefore 
couldn't help you if I would, Poor Thing, and you make 
it seem to my own self as if I was cruel in going to be 
married and not helping you. It ain't kind. Now, is it 
kind, Poor Thing ? " 

*' Sally ! Hear me, my dear. My entreaty is for no 
help in the future. It applies to what is past. It is 
only to be told in two words." 

" There ! This is worse and worse," cries Sally, 
" supposing that I understand what two words you 
mean." 

" You do understand. What are the names they have 
given my poor baby ? I ask no more than that. I have 
read of the customs of the place. He has been christen- 
ed in the chapel, and registered by some surname .in the 
book. He was received last Monday evening. What 
have they called him ? " 

Down upon her knees in the foul mud of the by-way 
hito which they have strayed — an onipty street without 



THE OVERTURE. ^ 

a thoroughfare, giving on the dark gardens of the Hospi- 
tal — the lady would drop in her passionate entreaty, but 
that Sally prevents her. 

" Don't ! Don't ! You make me feel as if I was set- 
ting myself up to be good. Let me look in your pretty 
face again. Put your two hands in mine. Now promise. 
You will never ask me acny thing more than the two 
words ? " 

" Never ! Never ? " 

"You will never put them to a bad use, if I say 
them ? " 

" Never ! Never ! " 

" Walter Wilding." 

The lady lays her face upon the nurse's breast, draws 
her close in her embrace, with both arms murmurs a 
blessing and the words, " Kiss him for me I " and is gone. 

Day of the month and year, the first Sunday in Octo- 
ber, one thousand eight hundred and forty-seven. Lon- 
don Time by the great clock of Saint Paul's half-past 
one in the afternoon. The clock of the Hospital for 
Foundling Children is well up with the Cathedral to-day. 
Service in the Chapel is over, and the Foundling children 
are at dinner. 

There are numerous lookers-on at the dinner, as the 
custom is. There are two or three governors, whole fam- 
ilies from the congregation, smaller groups of both sexes, 
individual stragglers of various degrees. The bright 
autumnal sun strikes freshly into the wards ; and the 
heavy framed windows through which it shines, and the 
panelled walls on which it strikes, are such windows and 
such walls as pervade Hogarth's pictures. The girls' 
refectory (including that of the younger children ) is the 
principal attraction. Neat attendants silently glide about 
the orderly and silent tables ; the lookers-on move on or 
stop as the fancy takes them ; comments in whispers on 



10 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

face such a number from such a window are not unfre- 
quent ; many of the faces are of a character to fix atten- 
tion. Some of the visitors from the outside public are 
accustomed visitors. They have established a speaking 
acquaintance with the occupants of particular seats at 
the tables, and halt at those points to b^nd down and say 
a word or two. It is no disparagement to their kin(Jnes3 
that those points are generally points where personal 
attractions ai'e. Tlie monotony of the long spacious 
rooms and the double lines of faces, is agreeably relieved 
by these incidents, although so slight. 

A veiled lady, who has no companion, goes among 
the company. It would seem that curiosity and oppor- 
tunity liave never brought her there before. She has 
the air of being a little troubled by the sight, and, as she 
goes the length of the tables, it is with a hesitating 
step and an uneasy manner. At length she comes to 
the refectory of the boys. They are so much less popular 
than the girls that it Is bare of visitors when she looks in 
at the doorway. 

But just within the doorway, chances to stand, inspect- 
ing, an elderly-female attendant : some order of matron or 
housekeeper. To whom the lady addresses natural 
questions, as : IIow many boys ? At what age are they 
usually put out in life ? Do they often take a fancy to 
the sea? So, lower and lower in tone until, the lady puts 
the question : " Which is Walter Wilding ?" 

Attendant's head sliakcn. A<rainst the rules. 

"You know which is Walttir Wilding?'* 

So keenly does tlie atteiwlant feel the closeness with 
which the lady's ey(?s examine \u)r face, that she keeps 
her own eyes fast upon the floor lest by wandering in 
the right directioli they should betray hor. 

"I know which is Walter Wilding, but it is nbt my 
place, ma*am, to tell names to viHiturd.'' 



THE OVERTURE. 11 

" But vou can show me without tellinoj me." 

The lady's hand moves quietly to the .attendant's hand. 
Pause and silence. 

'* I am going to pass round the tables," says the lady's 
interlocutor, without seeming to address her. " Follow me 
with your eyes. The boy that I stop and speaE to, will 
not matter to you. But the boy that I touch, will be 
Walter Wilding. Say nothing more to me, and move a 
little away." 

Quickly acting on this hint, the lady passes on into the 
room, and looks about her. After a few moments, the at- 
tendant, in a staid official way walks down outside the line 
of tables commencing on her left hand. She goes the 
whole length of the line, turns, and comes back on the in- 
side. Very slightly glancing in the lady's direction, she 
stops, bends forward, and speaks. The boy whom she ad- 
dresses, lifts his head and replies. Good humoredly and 
easily, as she listens to what he says, she lays her hand 
upon tlie shoulder of the next boy on the right. That the 
action may be well noted, she keeps her hand on the shoul- 
der while speaking in return, and pats it twice or thrice 
before moving away. She completes her tour of the 
tables, touching no one else, and passes out by a door at 
the opposite end of the long room. 

Dinner is done, and the lady, too, walks down outside 
the line of tables commencing on her left hand, goes the 
whole lenglh of the* line, turns, and comes back on the in- 
side. Other people h* ve strolled in, fortunately for her, 
and stand sprinkled about. She lifts her veil, and stop- 
ping at the touched boy, asks how old he is. 

*' I am twelve, ma'am," he answers, with his bright 
eyes fixed on hers. 

" Are you well and happy ? " 

" Yes ma' m." 

" May you take these sweetmeats from my hand ? " 



12 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

" If you please to give them to me." 

In s-tooping low for the purpose, the lady touches the 
boy's face with her forehead and with her hair. Then, 
lowering her veil again, she passes out without looking 
back 



THK CURTAIN RISES. 18 



ACT I. 

THE CURTAIN RISES. 

IN a court-yard in the City of London, which was No 
Thoroughfare either for vehicles or foot-passengers ; a 
court-yard diverging from a steep, a slippery, and a wind- 
ing street connecting Tower-street with the Middlesex 
shore of the Thames ; stood the place of business of Wild- 
ing and Co., Wine Merchants. Probably, as a jocose ac- 
knowledgment of the obstructive character of this main 
approach, the point nearest to its base at which one could 
take the river (if so inodorously minded) bore the ap- 
pellation Break-Neck-Stairs. The court-yard itself had 
likewise been descriptively entitled in old time, Cripple 
Corner. 

Years before the year one thousand eight hundred and 
sixty-one, people had left off taking boat at Break-Neck- 
Stairs, and watermen had ceased to ply there. The slimy 
little causeway had dropped into the river by a slow pro- 
cess of suicide, and two or three stumps of piles and a 
rusty iron mooring-ring were all that remained of the de- 
parted Break-Neck glories. Sometimes, indeed, a laden 
coal barge would bump itself into the place, and certain 
laborious heavers, seemingly mud-engendered, would arise, 
deliver the cargo in the neighborhood, shove off, and van- 
ish ; but at most times the only commerce of Break-Neck- 
Stairs arose out of the conveyance of casks and bottles, 
both full and empty, both to and from the cellars of Wild- 
ing and Co., Wine Merchants. Even that commerce 



14 NO THOROUGHFABE. 

was but*occasional, and through three-fourths of its rising 
tides the dirty indecorous drab of a river would come soli- 
tarily oozing and lapping at the rusty ring, as if it had 
heard of the Doge and the Adriatic, and wanted to be 
married to the great conserver of its filthiness, the Right 
Honorable the Lord Mayor. 

Some two hundred and fifty yards on the right, up the 
opposite hill (approaching it from the low ground of Break- 
Neck-Stairs) was Cripple Corner. There was a pump in 
Cripple Corner, there was a tree in Cripple Corner. All 
Cripple Corner belonged to Wilding and Co., Wine Mer- 
chants. Their cellars burrowed under it, their mansion 
towered over it. It really had been a mansion in the days 
when merchants inhabited the City, and had a ceremonious 
shelter to the doorway without visible support, like the 
sounding-board over an old pulpit. It had also a number 
of long narrow strips of window, so disposed in its grave 
brick front as to render it symmetrically ugly. It had 
also on its roof, a cupola with a bell in it. 

" When a man at five and twenty can put his hat on, 
and can say * this hat covers the owner of this property 
and of the business which is transacted on this property,' 
I consider, Mr. Bin trey, that, without being boastful he 
may be allowed to be deeply thankful. I don't bnow how 
it may appear to you, but so it appears to me." 

Thus Mr. Walter Wilding to his man of law, in his own 
counting-house ; taking his hat down from its peg to suit 
the action to the word, and hanging it up again when he 
had done so, not to overstep the modesty of nature. 

An innocent, open-speaking, unused-looking man, Mr. 
Walter Wilding, with a remarkable pink and white com- 
plexion, and a figure much too bulky for so young a man, 
though of a good stature. With crispy curling brown 
hair, and amiable bright blue eyes. An extremely com- 
municative man : a man with whom loc^uacity was the ir- 



THE CURTAIN RISES. 15 

restrainable outpouring of contentment and gratitude. Mr. 
Bin^rey, on the other hand, a cautious man with twinkling 
beads of eyes in a large over-hanging bald head, who in- 
wardly but intensely enjoyed the comicality of openness of 
speech, or hand, or heart. 

" Yes," said Mr. Bintrey. " Yes. Ha, ha ! " 

A decanter, two wine glasses, and a plate of biscuits, 
stood on the desk. 

"You like this forty -five year old port wine?" said 
Mr. Wilding. 

" Like it ? " repeated Mr. Bintrey. " Rather, sir ! " 

" It's from the best corner of our best forty-five year 
old bin," said Mr. Wilding. 

" Thank you, sir," said Bintrey. " It's most excellent." 

lie laughed again, as he held up his glass and ogled it 
it, at the highly ludicrous idea of giving away such 
wine. 

" And now," said Wilding, with a childish enjoyment 
in the discussion of 'Uffairs, " I think we have got every- 
thing straight, Mr. Bintrey." 

" Everything straight," said Bintrey. 

" A partner secured-^-" 

" Partner secured," said Bintrey. 

" A housekeeper advertised for — " 

" Housekeeper advertised for," said Bintrey, " ' applj 
personally at Cripple Corner, Great Tower-street, from 
ten to twelve * — to-morrow, by-the-by." 

** My late dear mother's afiPairs wound up — " 

" Wound up," said Bintrey. 

"And all charges paid," said Bintrey, with a chuckle : 
probably occasioned by the droll circumstance that they 
had been paid without a haggle. 

" The mention of my late dear mother," Mr. Wilding 
continued, his eyes filling with tears and his pocket-hand- 
kerchief drying them, " unmans me still, Mr. Bintrey. 



16 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

You know how I loved her ; you (her lawyer) knew how 
she loved me. The utmost love of mother and child was 
cherished between us, and we never experienced one mo- 
ment's division or unhappiness from the time when she 
took me under her care. Thirteen years in all ! Thirteen 
years under my late dear mother's care, Mr. Bin trey, and 
eight of them' her confidentially acknowledged son ! You 
know the story, Mr. Bintrey, who but you, sir ! " Mr. 
Wilding sobbed and dried his eyes, without attempt at 
concealment, during these remarks. 

Mr. Bintrey enjoyed his comical port, and said, after 
rolling it in his mouth : " I know the story." 

" My late dear mother, Mr. Bintrey," pursued the 
wine-merchant, " had been deeply deceived, and had 
cruelly suffered. But on that subject my late dear 
mother's lips were for ever sealed. By whom deoeived 
or under what circumstances. Heaven only knows. My 
late dear mother never betrayed her betrayer." 

** She had made up her mind," said Mr. Bintrey, again 
turning his wine on his palate, " and she could hold her 
peace." An amused twinkle in his eyes pretty plainly 
added — " A devilish deal better than you ever will ! " 

"'Honor,'" said Mr. Wilding, sobbing as he quoted 
from the Commandments, " ' thy father and thy mother, 
that thy days may be long in the land.' When I was in 
the Foundling, Mr. Bintrey, I Was at such a loss how to 
do it, that I apprehended my days would be short in the 
land. But I afterwards came to honor my mother deeply? 
profoundly. And I honor and revere her memory*. For 
seven happy years, Mr. Bintrey," 'pursued Wilding, still 
with the same innocent catching iii his breath, and the 
same unabashed tears, " did my excellent mother article 
me to my predecessors in this business, Pebbleson Nephew. 
Her affectionate forethought likewise apprenticed me to 
the Vintners' Company, and made me in time a Free 



THE CURTAIN RISES. 17 

vintner, and — and — and everything else that the best of 
mothers could desire. When I came of age, she bestowed 
her inherited share in this business upon me : it was her 
money that afterwards bought out Pebbleson Nephew, and 
painted in Wilding and Co. ; it was she who left me every- 
thing she possessed,* but the mourning ring you wear. 
And yet, Mr. Bintrey," with a fresh burst of honest affec- 
tion, " she is no more. It is little over half a year since 
she came into the Corner to read on that door-post with 
her own eyes, Wilding and Co., -Wine Merchants. 
And yet she is no more ! " 

" Sad. But the common lot, Mr. Wilding,*' observed 
Bin trey. " At some time or other we must all be no more." 
He placed the, forty-five year old port wine in the univer- 
sal condition, with a relishing sigh. 

" So now, Mr. Bintrey," pursued Wilding, putting 
away his pgcket-h^ndkerchief, and smoothing his eyelids 
with his fingers, " now that I can no longer show my 
love and honor for the dear parent to whom my heart 
was mysteriously turned by Nature when she first spoke 
to me, a strange lady, I sitting at our Sunday dinner-table 
in the Foundling, I can at least show that I am not 
ashamed of having been a Foundling, and that I, who never 
knew a father of my own, wish to be a father to all in 
my employment. Therefore," continued Wilding, becom- 
ing enthusiastic in his loquacity, " therefore, I want a 
thoroughly good housekeeper to undertake this dwelling- 
house of Wilding and Co., Wine Merchants, Cripple Cor- 
ner, so that I may restore in it some of the old relation 
betwixt employer and employed ! So that I may live in 
it on the spot where my money is made ! So that I may 
daily sit at the head of the table at which the people in 
my employment eat together, and may eat of the same 
roast, and boiled, and drink of the same beer ! So that 
the people in my employment may lodge under the same 



18 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

roof with me I So that we may one and all — I beg your 
pardon, Mr. Bintrey, but that old singing in my head has 
suddenly come on, and I shall feel obliged if you will lead 
me to the pump." 

Alarmed by the excessive pinkness of his client, Mr. 
Bintrey lost not a moment in leading him forth into the 
court-yard. It was easily done, for the counting-house in 
which they talked together opened on to it, at one side 
of the dwelling-house. There, the attorney pumped with 
a will, obedrent to a sign from the client, and the client 
laved his head. and face with both hands, and took a 
hearty drink. After these remedies, he declared him- 
self much better. 

" Don't let your good feelings excite you," said Bintrey, 
as they returned to the counting-house, and Mr. AVilding 
dried himself on a jack-towel behind an inner door. 

** No no. I won't," he returned, looking out of the 
towel. ** r won't. I have not been confused, have I ? " 

" Not at all. Perfectly clear." 

"Where did I leave off, Mr. Bintrey ? " 

" Well, you left off — but I wouldn't excite myself, if I 
was you, by taking it up again just yet." 

" I'll take care. I'll take care. The singing in my 
head came on at where, Mr. Bintrey ? " 

" At roast, and boileil, and beer," answered the lawyer, 
prompting, "lodging under the same roof, and one and 
all." 

" Ah ! And one and all sintring in the head toojether — " 

" Do you know, I really would not let my good feelings 
excite mo, if I was you," hinted the lawyer again, anx- 
iously. " Try some more pump." 

" No occaHJon, no occasion. All right, Mr. Bintrey. 
And onn m\A all frirniing a kind of family ! You see Mr. 
Bintn«y, I wan not UH<'d in my childhood to that sort of 
individual i«xiHt<!nc<* which most individuals have led, more 



THE CURTAIN RISES. 19 

of less, in their childhood. After that time I became ab- 
sorbed in my late dear mother. Having lost her, I find 
that I am more fit for being one of a body than one by 
myself alone. To be that, and at the same time to do my 
duty to those dependent on me, and attach them to me, 
has a patriarchal and pleasant air about it. I don't know 
how it may appear to you, Mr. Bin trey, but so it appears 
to me." 

" It is not I who am all-important in the case, but you," 
returned Eintrey. " Consequently, how it may appear to 
me, is of very small importance." 

"It appears to me," said Mr. Wilding, in a glow, 
"hopeful, useful, de-lightful ! " 

" Do you know," hinted the lawyer again, " I really 
would not ex — " 

" I am not going to. Then there's Handel." 

"There's who?." asked Bintrey. 

" Handel, Mozart, Haydn, Kent, Purcell, Doctor Arne, 
Graene, Mendelssohn. I know the choruses to those an- 
thems by heart. Foundling Chapel Collections. Why 
shouldn't we learn them together! " 

" Who learn them together ?" asked the lawyer, rather 
shortly. 

" Employer and employed." 

" Aye, aye ! " returned Bintrey, mollified ; as if he had 
half expected the answer to be. Lawyer and client. 
" That's another thing." 

" Not another thing, Mr. Bintrey ! The same thing. 
A part of the bond among us. We will form a Choir in 
some quiet church near the Corner here, and, having sung 
together of a Sunday with a relish, we will come home and 
take an early dinner together with a relish. The object I 
have at heart now i^ to get this sj^stem well in action 
without delay, so that my new partner may find it founded 
when he enters on his partnership." 



20 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

"All good be with it ! " exclaimed Bintrey, rising, 
** May it prosper ! Is Joey Ladle to take a share in Handel, 
Mozart, Haydn, Kent, Purcell, Doctor Arne, Greene, and 
Mendelssohn ? " 

" I hope so. 

"I wish them all well out of it," returned Bintrey, 
with much heartiness, " Good-bye, sir." 

They shook hands and parted. Then (first knocking 
with his knuckles for leave) entered to Mr. Wilding, from 
a door of communication between his private counting- 
house and that in which his clerks sat, the Head Cellar- 
man of the cellars of Wilding and Co., Wine Merchants, 
and erst Head Cellarman of the cellars of Pebbleson 
Nephew. The Joey Ladle in question. A slow and pon- 
derous man, of the drayman order of human architecture, 
dressed in a corrugated suit and bibbed apron apparently 
a composite of door-mat and rhinocerous-hide. 

" Respecting this same boarding and lodging. Young 
Master Wilding," said he. 

" Yes, Joey ? " 

" Speaking for myself. Young Master Wilding — and I 
never did speak and I never do speak for no one else — I 
don't want no boarding nor yet no lodging. But i-f you 
wish to board me and to lodge me, take me. I can peck 
as well as most men. Where I peck, ain*t so high a ob- 
ject with me as What I peck. Nor even so high an ob- 
ject with me as How Much I peck. Is all to live in the 
house. Young Master Wilding ? The two other cellar- 
men, the three porters, the two 'prentices, and the odd 
men?" 

" Yes. I hope we shall all be an united family, Joey." 

'" Ah ! " said Joey. " I hope they may be." 

" They ? Rather say we, Joey." 

Joey Ladle shook his head. " Don't look to me to 
make we on it. Young Master Wilding, not at my time of 



THE CURTAIN RISES. 21 " 

life and under the circumstances which has formed my 
disposition. I have said to Pebbleson Nephew many a 
time, when they have said to me, * Put a livelier face 
upon it, Joey' — I have said to them, * Gentlemen, it is all 
very well for you that has been accustomed to take your 
wine into your systems by the conwivial channel of your 
throttles, to put a lively face upon it ; but, I says, ' I have 
been accustomed to take my wine in at the pores of the skin, 
and, took that way, it acts different. It acts depressing. 
* It's one thing, gentlemen,' I says to Pebbleson Nephew, 
^ to charge your glasses in a dining-room with a Hip 
Hurrah and a Jolly Companions Every One, and it's an- 
other thing to be charged yourself, through the pores, in a 
low dark cellar and a mouldy atmosphere. It makes all the 
difference betwixt bubbles and wapours,' I tells Pebble- 
son Nephew. And so it do. I've been a cellarman my 
life through, with my mind fully given to the business. 
What's the consequence ? I'm as muddled a man as 
lives — ^you won't find a muddleder man than me — 
nor yet you won't find my equal in molloncoUy. Sing of 
Filling the bumper fair. Every drop you sprinkle. O'er 
the brow of care. Smooths away a wrinkle ? Yes. P'raps 
so. But try filling yourself through the pores, under- 
ground, when you don't want it ! " 

" I am sorry to hear this, Joey. I had even thought that 
you might join a singing-class in the house." 

" Me, sir ? No, no. Young Master Wilding, you won't 
catch Joey Ladle muddling the Armony. A pecking-ma- 
chine sir, is all that I am capable of proving myself, out 
of my cellars ; but that you're welcome to, if you think it's 
worth your while to keep such a thing on your premises." 

" I do, Joey," 

" Say no more, sir. The bushiess's word is my law. 
And you're a going to take Young Master George Ven- 
dale partner into the old business ? " 



22 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

" I am, Joey." 

" More changes, you see ! But doo't change the name 
of the Firm again. Don't do it Young Master Wilding. 
It was bad iuck enough to make it Yoursel-f and Co. ; bet- 
ter by far have left it Pebbleson Nephew that good luck 
always stitck to. You should never change luck when 

it's good, sir." 

" At all events, I have no intention of changing the 
name of the House again, Joey." 

" Glad to hear it, and wish you good-day, Ycung Mas- 
ter Wilding. But you had better by half," muttered Joey 
Ladle, inaudibly, as he closed the door and shook liis 
head, " have let the name alone from the first. You had 
better by half have followed the luck instead of cross- 
ing It. 

ENTER THE HOUSEKEEPER. 

The wine-merchant sat in his dining-room next morning, 
to receive the personal applicants' lor the vacant post in his 
establishment. It was an old-fashioned wainscotted room ; 
the panels ornamented with festoons of flowers carved 
n wood ; with an oaken floor, a well woi-n Turkey cari)et, 
and dark mahogany furniture, all of which had seen ser- 
vice and polish under Pebbleson Nephew. The great side- 
board had assisted at many business-dinners given by 
Pebbleson Nephew to their connexion, on the-princi])le of 
throwing sprats overboard to catch whales ; and Pebbleson 
Nephew's comprehensive three-sided plate-warmer, made to 
fit the whole front of the large fireplace, kept watch be- 
neath it over a sarcophagus-shaped cellaret that had in its 
lime held many a dozen of Peb' leson Nephew's wine. 
Put the little rubicund old bachelor with a pigtail, whose 
|K)rtrait was over the sideboard (and who could easily 
l>e identified as decidedly Pebbleson and decidedly not 



ENTER THE HOUSEKEEPER. 23 

Nephew), had retired into another sarcophagus, and the 
plate-warmer had grown as cold as he. So, the golden and 
black griffins that supportedthe candelabra, with black balls 
in their mouths at the end of gilded chains, looked as if in 
their old age they had lost all heart for playing at ball, and 
were dolefully exhibiting their chains in the Missionary 
line of inquiry, whether they had not earned emancipation 
by this time, and were not griffins and brothers ? 

Such a Columbus of a morning was the summer morn- 
ing that it discovered Cripple Corner. The light and 
warmth pierced in at the open windows, and irradiated the 
picture of a lady hanging over the chimney-piece, the only 
other decoration of the walls. 

" My mother at five-and-twenty," said Mr. Wilding to 
himself, as his eyes enthusiastically followed the light to 
the portrait's face. " I hang it up here, in order that visitors 
may admire my mother in the bloom of her youth and 
beauty. My mother at fifty I hang in the seclusion of my 
own chamber, as a remembrance sacred to me. Oh ! It 
you, Jarvis ! " 

These latter words he addressed to a clerk who had tap- 
ped at the door and now looked in. 

" Yes, sir. I merely wished to mention that it's gone ten, 
sir, and there are several females in the Countin House." 

" Dear me !" said the wine-merchant, deepening in the 
pink of his complexion and whitening in the white "are there 
several ? So many as several ? I had better begin before 
there are more. I'll see them one by one, Jarvis, in the 
order of their arrival.** 

Hastily entrenching himself in his easy chair at the table 
behind a great inkstand, having first placed a chair on the 
other side of the table opposite his own seat, Mr. Wilding 
entered on his task with considerable trepidation. 

He ran the gauntlet that must be run on any such occa- 
sion. There were the usual species of profoundly unsym- 



24 NO THOROUQHFABB. 

pathetic women, and tlic usual species of much too sym- 
pathetic women. There were buccaneering widows who 
came to seize him, and who griped umbrellas under their 
arms, as if each umbrella were he, and each griper had got 
him. There were towering maiden ladies who had seen 
better days, and who came armed with clerical testimonial 
to their theology, as if he were Samt Peter with his keys. 
There were gentle maiden ladies who came to marry him 
There were professional housekeepers, like' non-commis- 
sioned officers, who put him through his domestic exercises 
instead of "submitting themselves to catechism. There were 
languid invalids to whom salary was not so much an object 
as the comforts of a private hospital. There were 
sensitive creatures who burst into tears on being addressed 
and liad to be restored with glasses of cold water. There 
wore some respondents who came two together, a highly 
promising one and a wholly unpromising one : of whom the 
promising one answered all questions charmingly, until it 
would at last appear that she was not a candidate at all, 
but only the friend of the unpromising one, who had glow- 
ered in absolute silence and apparent injury. 

At hist, when the good wine-merchant's simple heart was 
failing him, there entered an applicant quite different from 
all the rest. A woman, perhaps fifty, but looking younger, 
with a face remarkable for placid cheerfulness, and a man- 
ner no less remarkable for its quiet expression of equa- 
bility of temper. Nothing in her dress could have been 
changed to her advantage. Nothing in the noiseless self- 
possession of lier manner could have been changed to her 
advantage. Nothing could have been in better unison 
with both, than her- voice when she answered the ques- 
tion: "What name shall I have the pleasure of noting, 
down ? " with the words, " my name is Sarah Goldstraw 
Mrs. Goldstraw. My husband has boon dead many years, 
and we had no family." 



ENTER THE HOUSEKEEPER. 25 

Half a dozen questions had scarcely extracted as much to 
the purpose from any one else. The voice dwelt so agree- 
ably on Mr. Wilding's ear as he made his note, that he was 
rather long about it. When ho looked up again, Mrs. 
Goldstraw's glance had naturally gone round the room, 
and now returned to him from the chimney-piece. Its 
expression was one of frank readiness to be questioned, 
and to answer straight. 

" You will excuse my asking you a few questions ? " said 
the modest wine-merchant. 

" Oh, surely, sir. Or I should have no business here." 

" Have you filled the station of housekeeper before ? " 

" Only once. I have lived with the same widow lady 
for twelve years. Ever since I lost my husband. She 
was an invalid, and is lately dead : which is the occasion 
of my now wearing black." 

** I do not doubt that she has left you the best creden- 
tials ? " said Mr. Wilding. 

" I hope I may say, the very best. I thought it would 
save trouble, sir, if I wrote down the name and address of 
her representatives, and brought it with me." Laying a 
card on the table. 

"You singularly remind me, Mrs. Goldstraw," said 
Wilding, taking the card beside him, " of a manner and 
tone of voice that I was once acquainted with. Not of an 
individual — I feel sure of that, though I cannot recall what 
it is I have in my mind — ^but of a general biaring. I 
ought to add, it was a kind and pleasant one." 

She smiled, as she rejoined : " At least, I am very glad 
of that, sir.** 

"Yes," said the wine-merchant, thoughtfully repeating 
^hiis last phrase, with a momentary glance at his future 
housekeeper, "it was a kind and pleasant one. But 
that is the most I can make of it. Memory is sometimes 
like a half-forgotten dream. I don't know how it may 



26 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

appear to you, Mrs. Goldstraw, but so it appears to 
me." 

Probably it appeared to Mrs. Goldstraw in a similar 
light, for she quietly assented to the proposition. Mr. 
Wilding then offered to put himself at once in communi- 
cation with the gentlemen named upon the card ; a firm 
of proctors in Doctors' Commons. To this, Mrs. Gold- 
straw thankfully assented. Doctors' Commons not being 
far off, Mr. Wilding suggested the feasibility of Mrs. 
Goldstraw's looking in again, say in three hours' time. 
Mrs. Goldstraw readily undertook to do so. In fine? 
the result of Mr. Wildhig's inquiries being eminently satis- 
factory, Mrs. Goldstraw was that afternoon engaged (on 
her own perfectly fair terms) to come to-morrow and set 
up her rest as housekeeper in Cripple Corner. 

THE HOUSEKEEPER SPEAKS. 

On the next day Mrs. Goldstraw arrived, to enter on 
her domestic duties. 

Having settled herself in her own room, without troub- 
ling the servants, and without wasting time, the new house- 
keeper announced herself as waiting to be favored with 
any instructions 'which her master might wish to give her. 
The wine-merchant received IMrs. Goldstraw in the dininor- 
room, in which he had seen her on the previous day ; 
and, the usual preliminary civilities having passed on 
either side, the two sat down to take counsel together on 
the affairs of the house. 

" About the meals, sir ? " said Mrs. Goldstraw. " Have 
I a large, or a small, number to provide for ? " 

"If I can carry out a certain old-fashioned plan of 
mine," replied Mr. Wilding, " yoii will have a large 
number to provide for. I am a lonely single man, Mrs. 
Goldstraw ; and I hope to live with all the persons in my 



THE HOUSEKEEPER SPEAKS. 27 

employment as if they were members of my family 
Until that time comes, you will only have me, and the 
new partner whom I expect immediately, to provide for. 
What my partner's habits may be, I cannot yet say. But 
I may describe myself as a man of regular hours, with an 
invariable appetite that you may depend upon to an ounce." 

" About breakfast, sir ? " asked Mrs. Goldstraw. " Is 
there anything particular — ? " 

She hesitated, and left the sentence unfinished. Her 
eyes turned slowly away from her master, and looked 
towards the chimney-piece. If she had been a less 
excellent and experienced housekeeper, Mr. Wilding 
might have fancied that her attention was beginning to 
wander at the very outset of the interview. 

" Eight o'clock is my breakfast-hour," he resumed. 
" It is one of my virtues to be never tired of broiled 
bacon, and it is one of rdy vices to be habitually suspicious 
of the freshness of eggs." Mrs. Goldstraw looked back 
at him, still a little divided between her master's chimney- 
piece and her master. * " I take tea," Mr. Wilding went 
on ; " and I am perhaps rather nervous and fidgety about 
drinking it, within a certain time after it is made. If my 
tea stands too long — " 

He hesitated, on tis side, and left the sentence un- 
finished. If he had not been engaged in discussing a 
subject of such paramount interest to himself as his 
breakfast, Mrs. Goldstraw might have fancied that his 
attention was beginning to wander at the very outset of the 
interview. 

" If your tea stands too long, sir — ? " said the house- 
keeper, politely taking up her master's lost thread. 

" If my tea stands too long," repeated the wine-merchant, 
mechanically, his mind getting further and further away 
from his breakfast, and his eyes fixing themselves more 
and more inquiringly on his housekeeper's face. " If my 



28 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

tea — Dear, doar me, Mrs. Goldstraw ! what is the manner 
and tone of voice that you remind me of ? It strikes me 
even more strongly to-day, than it did when I saw you 
yesterday. What can it be ? " 

" What can it be ? " repeated Mrs. Goldstraw. 

She saiS the words, evidently thinking while she spoke 
them of something else. The wine-merchant, still looking 
at her inquiringly, observed that her eyes wandered 
towards the chimney-piece once more. They fixed on the 
portrait of his mother, which hung there, and looked at it 
with that slight contraction of the brow which accompanies 
a scarcely conscious effort of memory. Mr. Wilding re- 
marked : 

" My late dear mother, when she was five-and-twenty." 

Mrs. Goldstraw thanked him with a movement of the 
head for being at the pains to explain the picture, and 
said, with a cleared brow, that it was the portrait of a 
very beautiful lady. 

Mr. Wilding, falling back into his former perplexity, 
tried once more to recover that lost recollection, associated 
so closely, and yet so undiscoverably, with his new house- 
keeper's voice and manner. 

** Excuse my asking you a question which has nothing 
to do with me or my breakfast," he said. " May I inquire 
if you have ever occupied any other situation than the 
situation of housekeeper ? " 

" Oh yes, sir. I began life as one of the nurses of the 
Foundling." 

" Why, that's it ! " cried the wine-merchant, pushing 
back his chair. "By Heaven! Their manner is the 
manner you remind me of ! " 

In an astonished look at him, Mrs. Goldstraw changed 
color, checked herself, turned her eyes upon the ground 
and sat still and silent. 

" What is the matter ? " asked Mr. Wilding. 



THB HOUSEKEEPBB SPEAKS. 29 

" Do I understand that you were in the Foundling, sir ? " 

" Certainly. I am not ashamed to own it." 

** Under the name you now bear ? " 

« Under the name of Walter Wilding." 

"And the lady — ?" Mrs Goldstraw stopped short, 
with a look at the portrait which was now unmistakably ' 
a look of alarm. 

" You mean my mother," interrupted Mr. Wilding. 

"Your — ^mother,^ repeated the housekeeper, a little 
constrainedly, " removed you from the Foundling ? At 
what age, sir ? " 

" At between eleven and twelve years old. It's quite 
a romantic adventure, Mrs. Goldstraw." 

He told the story of the lady having spoken to him, 
while he sat at dinner with the other boys in the Found- 
ling, and of all that had followed, in his innocently com- 
municative way. " My poor mother could never have 
discovered me," he added< " if she had not met with one 
of the matrons who pitied her. The matron consented 
to touch the boy whose name was Walter Wilding, as she 
went round the dinner-tables — and so my mother discov- 
ered me again, after having parted from me as an infant 
at the Foundling doors." 

At those words Mrs. Goldstraw's hand, resting on the 
able, dropped helplessly into her lap. She sat, looking 
at her new master, with a face that had turned deadly 
pale, and with eyes that expressed an unutterable dismay. 
" What does this mean ? " asked the wine-merchant. 
" Stop ! " he cried. " Is there something else in the past 
time which I ought to associate with you ? I remember 
my mother telling me of another person at the Found- 
ling, to whose kindness she owed a debt of gratitude. 
When she first parted with "me, as an infant, one of the 
nurses informed her of the name that had been given to 
me in the institution. You were that nurse ? " 



80 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

<* Grod forgive me sir — ^I was that nurse ! '* 

" God forgive you ? " 

" We had better get back, sir (if I may make so bold 
as to say so), to my duties in the house," said Mrs. Gold- 
straw. " Your breakfast hour is eight. Do you lunch 
or dine, in the middle of the day ? " 

The excessive pinkness which Mr. Bintrey had noticed 
in his client's face began to appear there once more. Mr. 
Wilding put his hand to his head, and mastered some 
momentary confusion in that quarter, before he spoke 
as^ain. 

" Mrs. Goldstraw," he said, " you are concealing some- 
thiujo: from me ! " 

The housekeeper obstinately repeated, " Please to favor 
me, sir, by saying whether you lunch, or dine, in the 
middle of the day ? " 

" I don't know what I do in the middle of the day. I 
can't enter into my household affairs, Mrs. Golds traw, 
till I know why you regret an act of kindness to my mo- 
ther, which she always spoke of gratefully to the end of 
her life. You are not doing me a service by your silence. 
You are agitating me, you are alarming me, you are bring- 
ing on the singing in my head." 

His hand went up to his head again, and the pink in 
his face deepened by a shade or two. 

" It's hard, sir, on just entering your service," said the 
housekeeper, " to say what may cost me the loss of your 
good will. Please to remember, end how it may, that I 
only speak because you have insisted on my speaking, 
and because I sqc that I am alarming you by my silence. 
When I told the poor lady, whose portrait you have got 
there, the name by which her infant was christened in 
the Foundling, I allowed myself to forget my duty, and 
dreadful consequences, I am afraid, have followed from it. 
I'll tell you the truth, as plainly as I can. A few months 



THE HOUSEKEEPER SPEAKS. 31 

from the time when I had informed the lady of her baby's 
name, there came to our institution in the country another 
lady (a stranger), whose object was to adopt one of our 
chili*en. She brought the needful permission with her, 
and after looking at a great many of the children, without 
being able to make up her mind, she took a sudden fancy 
to one of the babies — a boy — ^under my care. Try, pray 
try, to compose yourself, sir ! It's no use disguising it 
any longer. The child the stranger took away was the 
child of that lady whose portrait hangs there ! " 

Mr. Wilding started to his feet. " Impossible ! " he 
cried out vehemently. "What are you talking 
about ? What absurd story are you telling me now r* 
There's her portrait ! Haven't I told you so already ? 
The portrait of my mother ! " 

"When that unhappy lady removed you from the 
Foundling, in after years," said Mrs. Goldstraw, gently, 
" she was the victim, and you were the victim, sir, of a 
dreadful jnistake." 

He dropped back into his chair. " The room goes 
round with me," he said. " My head ! my head ! " The 
housekeeper rose in alarm, and opened the windows. Be- 
fore she could get to the door to call for help, a sudden 
burst of tears relieved the oppression which had at first 
almost appeared to threaten his life. He signed entreat- 
ingly to Mrs. Goldstraw not to leave him. She waited 
until the paroxysm of weeping had worn itself out. He 
raised his head as he recovered himself, and looked at her 
with the angry, unreasoning suspicion of a weak man. 

" Mistake ? " he said, wildly repeating her last word. 
" How do I know you are not mistaken yourself ? " 

" There is no hope that I am mistaken, sir, I will tell 
you why, when you are better fit to hear it." 

" Now ! now ! " 

The tone in which he spoke warned Mrs. Goldstraw 



S2 no THOBOU6HFASS. 

that it would be crnd kindness to let him onnfort him- 
self a moment longer with the vain hope that she might 
be wrong. A few words more would end it — ^and those 
few words she determined to speak. 

^ I have told yon," she said, *• that the child of the lady 
whose portrait hangs there, was adopted in its infancy, 
and taken away by a stranger. I am as certain of what I 
say as that I am now sitting here, obliged to distress yon, 
sir, sorely against my will. Please to carry your mind 
on, now, to about three months after that time. I was 
then at the Foundling, in London, waiting to take some 
children to our institution in the country. There was a 
question that day about naming an infant — a boy — who 
had just been received. We generally named them out 
of the Directory. On this occasion, one of the gentlemen 
who managed the Hospital happened to be looking over 
the Registfjr. He noticed that the name of the baby who 
had been adopted (* Walter Wilding') was scratched out — 
for the reason, of course, that the child had been removed 
for good from our care. * Here's a name to let,' he said. 
* Give it to the new foimdling who has been received to- 
day.' The name was given, and the child was christened. 
You, sir, were that child." 

The wino-merchant's head dropped on his breast. " I 
was that child I " he said to himself, trying helplessly to 
^x the idea in his mind, " I was that child ! " 

" Not very long after you had been received into the 
Institution, sir," purnued Mrs. Goldstraw, " I left my sit- 
uation there to be married. 

" If you will remember that, and if you can give your 
mind to it, jk)u will see for yourself how the mistake hap- 
pened. Betw<jen eleven and twelve years passed before 
the la<ly, whom you have believed to be your mother, re- 
turned to tli<j Foundling, to find lier son, and to remove 
him to hor own home. The lady only knew that her in- 



THE HOUSEKEEPER SPEAKS. 83 

fant had been called * Walter Wilding.' The matron, who 
took pity on her, could but point out the only * Walter 
Wilding ' known in the institution. I, who might have 
set the matter right, was far away from the Foundling 
and all that belonged to it. There was nothing— ^there 
was really nothing that could prevent this terrible mis- 
take from taking place. I feel for you — I do indeed, sir ! 
You must think — and with reason — that it was an evil 
hour that I came here (innocently enough I'm sure) to 
apply for your housekeeper's place. I feel as if I was to 
blame — I feel as if I had ought to have had more self- 
command. If I had only been able to keep my face from 
showing you, what that portrait and what your own words 
put into my mind — ^you need never, to your dying day, 
have known what you know now." 

Mr. Wilding looked up suddenly. The inbred honesty 
of the man rose in protest against the housekeeper's last 
words. * His mind seemed to steady itself, for the moment, 
under the shock that had fallen on it. 

" Do you mean to say that you would have concealed 
this from me if you could ? " he exclaimed. 

" I hope I should always tell the truth, sir, if I was 
asked,'* said Mrs. Goldstraw. " And I know it is better 
for me that I should not have a secret of this sort weigh- 
ing on my mind. But is it better for you ? What use 
can it serve now — ? " 

• 

" What use ? Why, good Lord ! if your story is 
true— " 

" Should I have told it, sir, as I am now situated, if it 
had not been true ? " 

" I beg your pardon," said the wine-merchant. " You 
must make allowance for me. This dreadful discovery 
is something I can't realize even yet. We loved each 
other so dearly — I felt so fondly that I was her son. She 
died, Mrs. Groldstraw, in my arms — she died blessing me 



34 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

as only a mother could have blessed me. And now, after 
all these years, to be told she was not my mother ! O me, 
O me ! I don't know what I am saying ! " he cried, as 
the impulse of self-control under which lie had spoken a 
moment since, flickered, and died out. " It was not this 
dreadful grief — it was something else that I had it in my 
mind to speak of. Yes, yes. You surprised me — ^you 
wounded me just now. You talked as if you would have 
hidden this from me, if you could. Don't talk in that 
way again. It would have been a crime to have hidden 
it. You mean well, I know, I don't want to distress 
you — ^you are a kind-hearted woman. But you don't re- 
member what my position is. She left me all that I pos- 
sess, in the firm persuasion that I was her son. I am not 
her son. I have taken the place, I have innocently got 
the inheritance of another man. He must be found! 
How do I know he is not at this moment in misery, with- 
out bread to eat? He must be found! My only hope of 
bearing up against the shock that has fallen upon me, is 
the hope of doing something which she would have ap- 
proved. You must know more, Mrs. Goldstraw, than you 
have told me yet. Who was the stranger who adopted 
the child ? You must have heard the lady's name ? " 

" I never heard it, sir, I have never seen her, or 
heard of her, since." 

" Did she say nothing when she took the child away ? 
Search your memory. She must have said something." 

" Only one thing, sir, that I can remember. It was a 
miserable bad season, that year ; and many of the chil- 
dren were suffering from it. When she took the baby 
away, the lady said to me, laughing, ' Don't be alarmed 
about his health. He will be brought up in a better cli- 
mate than this — I am going to take him to Switzerland.' " 

« To Switzerland ? What part of Switzerland ? " 

« She didn't say, sir." 



THE HOUSEKEEPER SPEAKS. 35 

" Only that faint clue ! " said Mr. Wilding. " And a 
quarter of a century has passed since the child was taken 
away ! What am I to do ?* " 

** I hope you won't take offence at my freedom, sir," 
said Mrs. Groldstraw ; " but why should you distress your- 
self about what is to be done ? He may not be alive now, 
for anything you know. And, if he is alive, it*s not like- 
ly he can be in any distress. The lady who adopted him 
was a bred and born lady — it was easy to see that. And 
she must have satisfied them at the Foundling that she 
could provide for the child, or they would never have let 
her take him away. If I was in your place, sir — please 
to excuse my saying so — I should comfort myself with 
remembering that I had loved that poor lady whose por- 
trait you have got there — truly loved her as my mother, 
and that she had truly loved me as her son. All she gave 
to you, she gave for the sake of that love. It never al- 
tered while she lived ; and it won't alter, I'm sure, as 
long as you live. How can you have a better right, sir, 
to keep what you have got than that ? " 

Mr. Wilding's immovable honesty saw the fallacy of his 
housekeeper's point of view at a glance. 

" You don't understand me," he said, " It's because I 
loved her that I feel it a duty — a sacred duty— to do jus- 
tice to her son. If he is a living man, I must find him ; 
for my own sake, as well as his. I shall break down un- 
der this drieadful trial, unless I employ myself — actively, 
instantly employ myself — in doing what my conscience 
tells me ought to be done. I must speak to my lawyer ; 
I must set my lawyer at work before I sleep to night." 
He approached a tube in the wall of the room, and called 
down through it to the office below. " Leave me for a 
little, Mrs. Goldstraw," he resumed ; " I shall be more 
^composed, I shall be better able to speak to you later in 
the day. We shall get on well — I hope we shall get on 



86 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

well together — ^In spite of what has happened. It isn't 
your fault ; I know it isn't your fault. There ! There ! 
shake hands ; and — ^and do the best you can in the house 
— I can't talk about it now." 

The door opened as Mrs. Golds traw advanced towards 
it ; and Mr. J^rvis appeared. 

"Send for Mr. Bintrey," said the wine-merchant. "Say 
I want to see him directly." 

The clerk unconsciously suspended the execution of the 
order, by announcing "Mr. Vendale," and showing in the 
new partner in the firm of Wilding and Co. 

"Pray excuse me for. one moment, George Vendale," 
said Wilding. "I have a word to say to Jarvis. Send for 
Mr. Bintrey," he repeated — "send at once." 

Mr. Jarvis laid a letter on the table before he left the 
room. 

" From our correspondents at Neuch^tel, I think, sir. 
The letter has got the Swiss postmark." 

NEW CHARACTERS ON THE SCENE. 

The words, " The Swiss Postmark," following so 
soon ' upon the housekeeper's reference to Switzer- 
land, wrought Mr. Wilding's agitation to such a remark- 
able height, that his new partner could not decently make 
a pretence of letting it pass unnoticed. 

" Wilding," he asked hurriedly, and yet stopping short 
and glancing around as if for some visible cause of his 
state of mind : " what is the matter? " 

" My good George Vendale," returned the wine-mer- 
chant, giving his hand with an appealing look, rather as if 
he wanted help to get over some obstacle, than as if he 
gave it in welcome or salutation : " my good George Ven- 
dale, so much is the matter, that I shall never be myself 
again. It is impossible that I can ever be myself again. 
For, in fact I am not myself." 



NEW CHARACTERS ON TflE SCENE. 37 

The new partner, a brown-cheeked handsome fellow, of 
about his own age, with a quick determined eye and an 
impulsive manner, retorted with natural astonishment : 
" Not yourself ? " 

" Not what I supposed myself to be," said Wilding. 

" What, in the name of wonder, did you suppose your- 
self to be that you are not ?" was the rejoinder, delivered 
with a cheerful frankness, inviting confidence from a more 
reticent man. "I may ask without impertinence, now that 
we are partners." 

" There again ! " cried Wilding, leaning back in his 
chair, with a lost look at- the other, " Partners ! I had no 
right to come into this business. It was never meant for 
me. My mother never meant it should be mine. I 
mean, his mother meant it should be his — if I mean 
anything — or if I am anybody." 

" Come, come, " urged his partner, after a moment's 
pause, and taking possession of him with that calm con- 
fidence which inspires a strong nature when it honestly 
desires to aid a weak one.* " Whatever has gone wrong, 
has gone wrong through no fault of yours, I am very 
sure. I was not in this counting-house with you under 
the old regime, for three years, to doubt you. Wilding. 
We were not younger men than we are, together, 
for that. Let me begin our partnership by being a 
serviceable partner, and setting right whatever is wrong. 
Has that letter anything to do with it ? " 

" Hah ! " said Wilding, with his hand to his temple. 
" There again ! My head ! I was forgetting the coin- 
cidence. The Swiss postmark." 

"At a second glance I see that the letter is unopened, 
so it is not very likely to have much to do with the 
matter," said Vendale, with comforting composure. "Is 
it for you, or for us ? " 

" For us," said Wilding. 



38 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

"Suppose I open it and read it aloud, to get it out 
of your way ? " 

"Thank you, thank you." 

" The letter is only from our champagne-making 
friends, the House at Neuchatel. *Dear Sir, We are 
in receipt of yours of the 28th ult., informing us that 
you have taken your Mr. Vendale into partnership, 
whereon we beg you to receive the assurance of our 
felicitations. Permit us to embrace the occasion of 
specially commending to you, M. Jules Obenreizer. 
Impossible !" 

Wilding looked up in quick apprehension, and cried, 
« Eh ? " 

" Impossible sort of name," returned his partner, 
slightly — " Obenreizer. ' — Of specially commending to 
you M. Jules Obenreizer, of Soho-square, London (north 
side), henceforth fully accredited as our agent, and who 
has already had the honor of making the acquaintance 
of your Mr. Vendale in his, (said M. Obenreizer 's) 
native country, Switzerland.' To be sure ; pooh, pooh, 
what have I been thinking of ! I remember now : ^ when 
travelling with his niece.' 

" With his ? " Vendale had so slurred the last 

word, that Wilding had not heard it. 

" When travelling with his Niece. Obenreizer's 
Niece," said Vendale, in a somewhat superfluously lucid 
manner. "Niece of Obenreizer. (I met them in my 
first Swiss tour, travelled a little with them, and lost 
them for. two years : met them again, my Swiss tour 
before lastj and have lost them ever since.) Obenreizer. 
Niece of Obenreizer. To be sure ! Possible sort of 
name after all ! ' M. Obenreizer is in possession of our 
absolute confidence, and we do not doubt you will 
esteem his merits. ' Duly signed by the House, ' De- 
fresnier et Cie. ' Very well. I undertake to see M. 



NEW CHARACTERS ON THE SCENE. 39 

Obenreizer presently, and clear him out of the way. 
That clears the Swiss post-mark out of the way. So now, 
my dear Wilding, tell me what I can clear out of 
your way, and I*ll find a way to clear it." 

More than ready and grateful to be thus taken charge 
of, the honest wine-merchant wrung his partner's hand, 
and, beginning his tale by patjietically declaring himself 
an Impostor, told it. 

** It was on this matter, no doubt, that you were send- 
ing for Bintrey when L came in ? " said his partner, after 
reflecting. 

" It was." 

" He has experience and a shrewd head ; I shall be 
anxious to know his opinion. It is bold and hazardous 
in me to give you mine before I know his, but I am not 
good at holding back. Plainly, then, I do not see these 
circumstances as you see them. I do not see your posi- 
tion as you see it. As to you being an Impostor, my 
dear Wilding, that is simply absurd, because no man can 
be that without being a consenting party to an imposition. 
Clearly you never were so. As to your enrichment by 
the lady who believed *you to be her son, and whom you 
were forced to believe, on her own showing, to be your 
mother, consider whether that did not arise out of the 
personal relations between you. You gradually became 
much attached to her ; she gradually became much attach- 
ed to you. It was on you, personally you, as I see the 
case, that she conferred these worldly advantages ; it was 
from her, personally her, that you took them." 

" She supposed me," objected Wilding, shaking his head 
" to have a natural claim upon her, which I had not," 

" I must admit that," replied his partner, " to be true. 
But if she had made the discovery that you have made, 
six months before she died, do you think it would have 
cancelled the years you were together, and the tender- 



40 ' NO THOROUGHFARE. 

ness that each of you had conceived for the other, each 
on increasing knowledge of the other ? '' 

" What I think/' said Wilding, simply but stoutly 
holding to the bare fact, '* can no more change the 
truth then it can bring it down from the sky. The truth 
is that I stand possessed of what was meant for another 
man." • 

" He may be dead," said Vendale. 

" He may be alive," said Wilding. " And if he is 
alive, have I not — innocently, I grant you innocently — 
robbed him of enough ? Have I not robbed, him of all 
the happy time that I enjoyed in his stead ? Have I not 
robbed him of the exqi\isite delight that filled my soul 
when that dear lady," stretching his hand towards the 
picture, " told me she was my mother ? Have I not 
robbed him of all the care she lavished on me ? Have I 
not even robbed him of all the devotion and duty that I 
so proudly gave to her? Therefore it is that I ask my- 
self, George Vendale, and I ask you, where is he ? What 
has become of him ? " 

" Who can tell ! " 

" I must try to find out who can tell. I must institute 
inquiries. I must never desist from prosecuting inquiries. 
I will live upon the interest of my share — I ought to say 
his share — in this business, and will lay up the rest for him. 
When I find him, I may, perhaps, throw myself upon his 
generosity ; but I will yield up all to him. I will, I swear. 
As I loved and honored her," said Wilding, reverently 
kissing his hand towards the picture, aiid then covering 
his eyes with it. " As I loved and honored her, and 
have a world of reasons to be grateful to her I " And so 
broke down again. 

His partner rose from the chair he had occupied, and 
stood beside him with a hand softly laid upon his shoulder. 
" Walter, I knew you before to-day to be an upright 



I 
I 



NEW CHARACTEBS ON THE SCENE. 41 

man, with a pure conscience and a fine heart. It is very 
fortunate for me that I have the privilege to travel on in 
life so near to so trustworthy a man. I am thankful for 
it. Use me as your right hand, and rely upon me to 
death. Don't think the worse of me if I protest to 
you that my uppermost feeling at present is a confused, 
you may call it an unreasonable one. I feel more pity 
for the lady and for you, because you did not stand in 
your supposed relations, than I can feel for the unknown 
man (if he ever became a man), because he was uncon- 
sciously displaced. You have done well in sending for 
Mr. Bintrey. What I think will be a part of his advice, I 
know is the whole of mine. Do not move a step in this 
serious matter precipitately. The secret must be kept 
among us with great strictness, for to part with it lightly 
would be to invite fraudulent claims, to encourage a hoat 
of knaves, to let loose a flood of perjury and plotting. I 
have no more to say now, "Walter, than to remind you 
that you sold me a share in your business,- expressly to 
save yourself from more work then your present health 
is fit for, and that I bought it expressly to do work, and 
mean to do it." 

With these words, and a parting grip of his partner's 
shoulder that gave them the best emphasis they could 
have had, George Vendale betook himself presently to 
the counting-house, and presently afterwards to the address 
of M. Jules Obenreizer. 

As he turned into Soho-square, and directed his steps 
towards its north side, a deepened color shot across his sun- 
browned face, which Wilding, if he had been a better ob- 
server, or had been less occupied with his own trouble, 
might have noticed when his partner read aloud a certain 
passage in their Swiss correspondents' letter which he 
had not read so distinctly as the rest. 

A curious colony of mountaineers has long been 



42 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

enclosed within that small flat London district of Soho. 
Swiss watchmakers, Swiss silver-chasers, Swiss jewellers, 
Swiss im'porters of Swiss musical boxes and Swiss toys 
of various kinds, draw close together there. Swiss pro- 
fessors of music, painting, and languages ; Swiss artificers 
in steady work ; Swiss couriers, and other Swiss servants 
chronically out of place; industrious Swiss laundresses 
and clear-starchers ; mysteriously existing Swiss of both 
sexes ; Swiss creditable and Swiss discreditable ; Swiss 
to be trusted by all means, and Swiss to be trusted by 
no means ; these diverse Swiss particles are attracted to 
a centre in the district of Soho. Shabby Swiss eating- 
houses, coffee-houses, and lodging houses, Swiss drinks 
and dishes, Swiss service for Sundays, and Swiss schools 
for week-days, are all to be found there. Even the na- 
tive-born English taverns drive a sort of broken-English 
trade ; announcing in their windows Swiss whets and 
drams, and sheltering in their bars Swiss skirmishes of 
love and animosity on most nights in the year. 

When the new partner in Wilding and Co. rang the 
bell of a door bearing the blunt inscription Obenueizer 
on a brass plate — the inner door of a substantial house, 
whose ground story was devoted to the sale of Swiss clocks 
— he passed at once into domestic Switzerland. A white- 
tiled stove for winter-time filled the fireplace of the room 
into which he was shown, the room's bare floor was laid 
together in a neat pattern of several ordinary woods, the 
room had a prevalent air of surface bareness and much 
scrubbing ; and the little square of flowery carpet by the 
sofa, and the velvet chimney board with its capacious 
clock and vases of artificial flowers, contended with that 
tone, as if, in bringing out the whole effect, a Parisian 
had adapted a dairy to domestic purposes. 

Mimic water was dropping off a mill-wheel under the 
clock. The visitor had not stood before it, following it 



NEW CHARACTERS ON THE SCENE. 43 

with his eyes, a minute, when M. Obenreizer, at his elbow, 
startled him by saying in very good English, very slightly 
clipped, " How do you do ! So glad ! " 

" I beg your pardon. I didn't hear you come in." 

"J^ot at all ! Sit, please." 

Releasing his visitor's two arms, which he had lightly 
pinioned at the elbows by way of embrace, M. Obenreizer 
also sat, remarking, with a smile ; " You are well ? So 
glad ! " and touching his elbows again. 

" I don't know," said Vendale, after exchange of saluta- 
tions, " whether you may yet have heard of me from your 
House at Neuchatel ? " 

'* Ah, yes ! " 

" In connection with Wilding and Co ! " 

« Ah, surely ! " 

" Is it not odd tha^t I should come to you, in London 
here, as one of the. Firm of Wilding and Co., to pay the 
the Firm's respects ? " 

" Not at all ! What did I always observe when we 
were on the mountains ? We call them vast ; but the 
world is so little. So little is the world, that one cannot 
keep away from persons. There are so few persons in 
the world, that they continually cross and recross. So 
very little in the world, that one cannot get rid of a person. 
Not," touching his elbows again, with an ingratiatory smile, 
" that one would desire to get rid of you." 

" I hope not, M. Obenreizer." 

" Please call me, in your country, Mr. I call myself 
so, for I love your country. If I could be English ! But 
I am born. And you ? Though descended from so fine a 
family, you have had the condescension to come into trade ? 
Stop though. Wines ? Is it trade in England or profes- 
sion ? Not fine art ? " 

" Mr. Obenreizer," returned Vendale, somewhat out of 
ooiintenance, " I was but a silly young fellow, just of age. 



44 NO THOBOUGHFARE. 

when I first had the pleasure of travelling with you, and 
when you and I and Mademoiselle your niece — ^who is 
well ? " 

« Thank you. Who is well." 

" — Shared some slightly glacier dangers together. * If 
with a boy's vanity, I rather vaunted my family, I hope I 
did so as a kind of introduction of myself. It was very 
weak, and in very bad taste ; but perhaps you know our 
English proverb, * Live and leal-n.' " 

" You make too much of it," returned the Swiss. 
"And what the devil! After all, yours was a fine 
family." 

George Vendale's laugh betrayed a little vexation as 
he rejoined : " Well, I was strongly attached to my parents, 
and when we first travelled together, Mr. Obenreizer, I 
was in the first flush of coming into what my father and 
mother left me. So I hope it may have been, after all, 
more youthful openness of speech and heart than 
boastfulness." 

" All openness of speech and heart ! No boastfulness ! " 
cried Obenreizer. " You tax yourself too heavily. You 
tax yourself, my faith ! as if you was your Government 
taxing you ! Besides it commenced with me. I remem- 
ber that evening in the boat upon the lake, floating among 
the reflections of the mountains and valleys, the crags and 
pine woods, which were my earliest remembrance, I drew 
a word-picture of my sordid childhood. Of our poor hut, 
by the waterfall, which my mother showed to travellers ; 
of the cow-shed where I slept with the cow ; of my idiot 
half-brother always sitting at the door, or limping down 
the Pass to beg ; of my half-sister always spinning, and 
resting her enormous goitre on a great stone ; of my being 
a famished naked Httle wretch of two or three years, when 
they with hard hands to beat me, I, the only child of niy 
father's second marriage — if it even was a marriage. 



NEW CHARACTERS ON THE SCENE. 45 

What more natural than for you to compare notes with 
me, and say, * We are as one by age ; at that same time I 
sat upon my mother's lap in my fathers carriage, rolling 
through the rich English streets, all luxury surrounding 
me, all squalid poverty kept far from me. Such is my 
earliest remembrance, as. opposed to yours ! ' " 

Mr. Obenreizer was a black-haired young man of a dark 
complexion, through whose swarthy skin, no red glow ever 
shone. When color wouM have come into another cheek, 
a hardly discernible beat would come into his, as if the 
machinery for bringing up the ardent blood were there 
but the machinery were dry. He was robustly made, well 
proportioned, and had handsome features. Many would 
have perceived, that some surface change in him would 
have set them more at ease with him, without being 
able to define what change. If his lips could have been 
made much thicker, and his neck much thinner, they would 
have found their want supplied. 

But the great Obenreizer peculiarity was, that a certain 
nameless film would come over his eyes — apparently by 
the action of his own will — which would impenetrably veil, 
not only from those tellers of tales, but from his face at 
large, every expression save one of attention. It by no 
means followed that his attention should be wholly given 
to the person with whom he spoke, or even wholly be- 
stowed on present sounds and objects. Bather, it was a 
comprehensive watchfulness of everything he had in his 
own mind, and everything that he knew to be, or suspect- 
ed to be, in the minds of other men. 

At this stage of the conversation, Mr. Obenreizer's 
film came over him. 

"The object' of my present visit," said Vendale, " is I 
need hardly say, to assure you of the friendliness of 
Wilding and Co. and of the goodness of your credit with 
us, and of our desire to be of service to you. We hope 



46 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

shortly to offer you our hospitality. Things are not quite 
in train with us yet, for my partner, Mr. Wilding, is re- 
organizing the domestic part of our establishment, and is 
interrupted by some private affairs. You don't know 
Mr. Wilding, I believe ? " 

Mr. Obenreizer did not. 

" You must come together soon, He will be glad to 
have made your acquaintance, and I think I may predict 
that you will be glad to have made his. You have not 
been long established in London, I suppose, Mr. Oben- 
reizer ? " 

" It is only now that I have undertaken this agency." 

" Mademoiselle your niece is — not married ? " 

" Not married." 

George Vendale glanced about him, as if for any tokens 
of her. 

" She has been in London ? " 

" She is in London." 

" When and where might I have the honor of recalling 
myself to her remembrance ? "' 

Mr. Obenreizer, discarding his film and touching his visi- 
tor's elbows as before, said lightly : " Come up-stairs." 

Fluttered enough by the suddenness with which the in- 
terview he had sought was coming upon him after all, 
George Vendale followed up-stairs. In a room over the 
chamber he had just quitted — a room also Swiss-appointed 
— a young lady sat near one of the three windows, work- 
ing at an embroidery frame ; and an older lady sat with 
her face turned close to another white-tiled stove (though 
it was summer, and the stove was not lighted), cleaning 
gloves. The young lady wore an unusual quantity of fair 
bright hair, very prettily braided about a rather rounder 
white forehead than the average English type, and so 
her face might have been a shade — or say a light — 
rounder than the average English face, and her figure 



NEW CHARACTERS ON THE SCENE. 47 

slightly rounder than the figure of the average English girl 
at nineteen. A remarkable indication of freedom and grace 
of limb, in her quiet attitude, and a wonderful purity and 
freshness of color in her dimpled face and bright grey eyes, 
seemed fraught with mountain air. Switzerland too, 
though the general fashion of her dress was English, peep- 
ed out of the fanciful bodice she wore, and lurked in the 
curious-clocked red stocking, and its little silver-buckled 
shoe. As to the elder lady, sitting with her feet apart 
upon the lower brass ledge of the stove, supporting a lap- 
full of gloves while she cleaned one stretched on her left 
hand, she was a true Swiss impersonation of another kind; 
from the breadth of her cushion-like back, and the ponder- 
osity of her respectable legs (if the word be admissible), 
to the black velvet band tied tightly round her throat for the 
repression of a rising tendency to goitre ; or, highei* still, 
to her great copper-colored gold ear-rings ; or, higher still, 
to her head-dress of black gauze, stretched on wire. 

"Miss Marguerite," said Obenreizer to the young lady, 
* • do you recollect this gentleman ? " 

" I think," she answered, rising from her seat, surprised 
and a little confused : " it is Mr. Vendale ? " 

" I think it is," said Obenreizer, dryly. " Permit me, 
Mr. Vendale. Madame Dor." 

The elder lady by the stove, with the glove stretched 
on her left hand like a glover's sign, half got up, half look- 
ed over her broad shoulder, and wholly plumped down 
again and rubbed away. 

" Madame Dor," said Obenreizer, smiling, " is so kind 
as to keep me free from stain or tear. Madame Dor hu- 
mors my weakness for being always neat, and devotes her 
time-to removing every one of my specks and spots." 

Madame Dor, with the stretched glove in the air, and her 
eyes closely scrutinising its palm, discovered a tough spot 
in Mr. Obenreizer at that instant, and rubbed hard at him. 

3 



48 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

George Vendale took his seat by the embroidery-frame 
(having first taken the fair right hand that his entrance 
had checked), and glanced at the gold cross that dipped 
into the bodice, with something of the devotion of a pil- 
grim who had reached his shrine at last. Obenreizer stood 
in the middle of the room with his thumbs in his waist- 
coat-pockets, and became filmy. 

" He was saying down-stairs, Miss Obenreizer," observed 
Vendale, " that the world is so small a place, that people 
cannot escape one another. I have found it much too 
large for me since I saw you last." 

" Have you travelled so far, then ? " she inquired. 

" Not so far, for I have only gone back to Switzerland 
each year ; but I could have wished — and indeed I have 
wished very often — that the little world did not afford 
such opportunities for long escapes as it does. If it had 
been less, I might have found my fellow-travellers sooner, 
you know." 

The pretty Marguerite colored, and very slightly glanc- 
ed in the direction of Madame Dor. 

" You find us at length, Mr. Vendale. Perhaps you 
may lose us again." 

" I trust not. The curious coincidence that has enabled 
me to find you, encourages me to hope not." 

" What is that coincidence, sir, if you please ? " A 
dainty little native touch in this turn of speech, and in its 
tone, made it perfectly captivating, thought George Ven- 
dale, when again he noticed an instantaneous glance to- 
wards Madame Dor. A caution seemed to be conveyed 
in it, rapid flash though it was ; so he quietly took heed of 
Madame Dor from that time forth. 

" It is that I happen to have become a partner' in a 
house of business in London, to which Mr. Obenreizer 
happens this very day to be expressly recommended ; and 
that, too, by another house of business in Switzerland in 



\ 



\ 



NEW CHARACTERS ON THE SCENE. 49 

wliich (as it turns out) we both have a commercial inter- 
est. He has not told you ? " 

" Ah ! " cried Obenreizer, striking in, filmless. " No I 
had not told Miss Marguerite. The world is so small and 
so monotonous that a surprise is worth having in such a 
little jog-trot place. It is as he tells you, Miss Marguerite 
He, of so fine a family, and so proudly bred, has conde- 
scended to trade. To trade ! Like us poor peasants who 
have risen from ditches ! " 

A cloud crept over the fair brow, and she cast down her 
eyes. 

" Why, it is good for trade ! " pursued Obenreizer, en- 
thusiastically. " It ennobles trade ! It is the misfortune 
of trade, it is its vulgarity, that any low people — for ex- 
ample, we poor peasants — may take to it and climb by it. 
See you, my dear Vendale ! " He spoke with great 
energy. " The father of Miss Marguerite, my eldest half- 
brother, more than two times your age or mine, if living 
now, wandered without shoes, almost without rags, from 
that wretched Pass — wandered — wandered — ^got to be fed 
with the mules and dogs at an Inn in the main valley far 
away — ^got to be Boy there — ^got to be Ostler — ^got to be 
Waiter — ^got to be Cook — ^got to be Landlord. As Land- 
lord, he took me (could he take the idiot beggar his 
brother, or the spinning monstrosity his sister ?) to put as 
pupil to the famous watchmaker, his neighbor and friend. 
His wife dies when Miss Marguerite is born. What is 
his will, and what are his words, to me, when, he dies, she 
being between girl and woman ? ' All for Marguerit.e, 
except so much by the year for you. You are young, 
but I make her your ward, for you were of the obscurest 
and the poorest peasantry, and so was I, and so was her 
mother ; we were abject peasants all, and you will re- 
member it.' The thing is equally true of most of my coun- 
trymen, now in trade in this your London quarter of Soho. 



50 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

Peasants once ; low-born drudging Swiss Peasants. Then 
how good and great for trade : " here, from having been 
warm, he became playfully jubilant, and touched the 
young whie-merchant's elbows again with his light em- 
brace : " to be exalted by gentlemen ! " 

" I do not think so," said Marguerite, with a flushed 
cheek, and a look away^from the visitor, that was almost 
defiant. " I think it is as much exalted by us peasants.'* 

" Fie, fie, Miss Marguerite," said Obenreizer. " You 
speak in proud England." 

" I speak in proud earnest," she answered, quietly re- 
suming her work, " and I am not English, but a Swiss 
peasant's daughter." 

There was a dismissal of the subject in her words, 
which Vend ale could not contend against. He only said 
in an earnest manner, " I most heartily agree with you. 
Miss Obenreizer, and I have already said so, as Mr. Oben- 
reizer will bear witness,^' which he by no means did, " in 
this house." 

Now, Vendale's eyes were quick eyes, and sharply 
watching Madame Dor by times, noted something in the 
broad back view of that lady. There was considerable 
pantomimic expression in her glove-cleaning. It bad been 
very softly done when he spoke with Maraguerite, or it 
had altogether stopped like the action of a listener. 
When Obenreizer's peasant-speach came to an end, she 
rubbed most vigorously, as if applauding it. And once 
or twice, as the glove (which she always held before her, 
a little above her face) turned in the air, or as this finger 
went down, or that went up, he even fancied that it made 
some telegraphic comnmnication to Obenreizer ; whose 
back was certainly never turned u})on it, though he did 
not seem at all to heed it. 

Vendale observed, too, thai in Marguerite's dismissal 
of the subject twice foiced upon him to his misrepresen- 



NEW CHARACTEES ON THE SCENE. 51 

tation, there was an indignant treatment of her guardian 
which she tried to check : as though she would have 
flamed out against him, but for the influence of fear. He 
also observed — though this was not much — that he never 
advanced within the distance of her at which he first 
placed himself : as though there were limits fixed between 
them. Neither had he ever spoken of her without the 
prefix " Miss," though whenever he uttered it, it was with 
the faintest trace of an air of mockery. And now it oc- 
curred to Vendale for the first time that something curious 
in the man which he had never before been able to define, 
was definable as a certain subtle essence of mockery that 
eluded touch or analysis. He felt convinced that Mar- 
guerite was in some sort a prisoner ^to her free will — 
though she held her own against those two combined, by 
the force of her character, which was nevertheless inade- 
quate to her release. To feel convinced of this, was not 
to feel less disposed to love her than he had always been. 
In a word, he was desperately in love with her, and 
thoroughly determined to pursue the opportunity which 
had opened at la&t. 

For the present he merely touched upon the pleasure 
that Wilding and Co. would soon have in entreating Miss 
Obenreizer to honor their establishment with her presence 
— a curious old place, though a bachelor house withal — 
and so did not protract his visit beyond such a visitor 
ordinary length. Going down stairs, conducted by has 
host, he found the Obenreizer counting-house at the back 
of the entrance-hall, and several shabby men in outlandish 
garments, hanging about, whom Obenreizer put aside that 
he might pass, with a few words in patois, 

" Countrymen," he explained, as he attended Vendale 
to the door. " Poor compatriots. Grateful and attached, 
like dogs ! Good-by. To meet again. So glad ! '* 

Two more light touches on his elbows dismissed him 
into the street. 



52 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

Sweet Marguerite at her frame, and Madame Dor's 
broad back at her telegraph, floated before him to Cripple 
Corner. On his arrival there. Wilding was closeted with 
Bintrey. The cellar doors happening to be open, Ven- 
dale lighted a candle in a cleft stick, and went down for 
a cellarous stroll. Graceful Marguerite floated before him 
faithfully, but Madame Dor's broad back remained outside. 

The vaults were very spacious, and very old. There 
had been a stone crypt down there, when bygones were 
not bygones ; some said, part of a monkish refectory ; 
some said, of a chapel ; some said, of a Pagan temple. 
It was all one now. Let who would, make what he liked 
of a crumbled pillar and a broken arch or so. Old Time 
had made what he^.ed of it, and was quite indifferent to 
contradiction. 

The close air, the musty smell, and the thunderous 
rumbling in the streets above, as being out of the routine 
of ordinary life, went well enough with the picture of 
pretty Marguerite holding her own against those two. 
So Vendale went on until, at a turning in the vaults, he 
saw a light like the light he carried. 

" Oh ! You are here, are you, Joey ? " 

" Oughtn't it rather to go, ' Oh ! You're here, are you, 
Master George ? ' For it's my business to be here. But 
it ain't yourn." 

" Don't grumble, Joey." 

" Oh ! /don't grumble," returned the Cellarmah. 
" If anything grumbles, it's what I've took' in through 
the pores ; it ain't me. Have a care as something in ^ou 
don't begin a-grumbling, Mast^u* George. Stop here 
long enough for the wapors to work, and they'll be at it." 

His present occupation consisted of poking his head 
into the bins, making measurements and incMital calcula- 
tions, and entering them in a rliinoceros-hide-looking 
note-book, like a piece of himself. 



\ 



NEW CHARACTERS ON THE SCENE. 53 

'* They'll be at it," he resumed, laying the wooden rod 
that he measured with, across two casks, entering his 
last calculation, and straightening his back, " trust *em ! 
And so you've regularly come into the business, Master 
George ? " 

" Regularly. I hope you don't object, Joey ? " 

" /don't, bless you. But Wapors objects that you ^re 
too young, You're both on you too young." 

" We shall get over that objection day by day, Joey." * 

" Aye, Master George ; but I shall day by day get 
over the objection that I'm too old, and so I sha'nt be 
capable of seeing much improvement in you." 

The retort so tickled Joey Ladle that he grunted forth 
a laugh and delivered it again, grunting forth another 
laugh after the second edition of " improvement in you." 

" But wh'at's no laughing matter. Master George," he 
resumed, straightening his back once more, "is, that 
Young Master Wilding has gone and changed the luck. 
Mark my words. He has changed the luck, and he'll 
find it out /ain't been down here all my life for nothing ! 
I know by what I notices down here, when it's a-going to 
rain, when it's a-going to hold up, when it's a-going to 
blow, when it's a-going to be calm. / know, by what I 
notices down here, when the luck's changed,* quite as 
well." 

" Has this growth on the roof anything to do with 
your divination ? " asked Vendale, holding his light 
towards a gloomy ragged growth of dark fungus, pendant 
from the arches with a very disagreeable and repellant 
effect. "We are famous for this growth in this vault, 
aren't we ? " 

" We are, Master George,'" replied Joey Ladle, moving 
a step or two away, " and if you'll be advised by me, 
you'll let it alone." 

Taking up the rod just now laid across the two casks, 



54 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

and faintly moving the languid fungus with it, Vendale 
asked, *' Aye, indeed ? Why so ? " 

" Why, not so much because it rises from the casks of 
wine, and may leave you to judge what sort of stuff a 
Cellarman takes into himself when he walks in the same 
all the days of his life, nor yet so much because at a stage 
of its growth it's maggots, and you'll fetch 'em down upon 
you," returned Joey Ladle, still keeping away, ** as for 
another reason. Master George." 

" What other reason ? " 

" I wouldn't keep on touchin' it, if I was you, sir. I'll 
tell you if you'll come out of the place. First, take a 
look at its color. Master George." 

" I am doing so." 

" Done, sir. Now, come out of the place." He moved 
away with his light, and Vendale followed with' his. When 
Vendale came up with him, and they were going back 
together, Vendale, eyeing him as they walked through 
the arches, said : " Well, Joey ? The color." 

" Is it like clotted blood. Master George ? " 

" Like enough, perhaps." 

" More than enough, I think," muttered Joey Ladle, 
shaking his head solemnly. 

" Well, say it is like ; say it is exactly like. What then ? '* 

" Master George, they do say — " 

« Who ? " 

" How should I know who ? " rejoined the Cellarma», 
apparently much exasperated by the unreasonable nature 
of the question. " Them ! Them as says pretty well 
everything, you know. How should I know who They 
are, if you don't ? " 

" True. Go on." 

" They do say that the man that gets by any accident a 
piece of that dark growth right upon his breast, will, for 
sure and certain, die by Murder." 



EXIT WILDING. 55 

As Vendale laughingly stopped to meet the Cellarman's 
eyes, which he had fastened on his light while dreamily 
saying those words, he suddenly became conscious of 
being struck upon his own breast by a heavy hand. In- 
stantly following with his eyes the action of the hand 
tliat struck him — which was his companion's — ^he saw 
that it had beaten off his breast a web or clot of the fungus, 
even then floating to the ground. 

For a moment he turned upon the cellarman almost 
as scared a look as the cellarman turned upon him. But 
in another moment they had reached the daylight at the 
foot of the cellar-steps, and before he cheerfully sprang 
up them, he blew out his candle and the superstition 
together. 

EXIT WILDING. 

On the morning of the next day. Wilding went out 
alone, after leaving a message with his clerk. " If Mr. 
Vendale should ask for me," he said, " or if Mr. Bin- 
trey should call, tell them I am gone to the Foundling." 
All that his partner had said to him, all that his lawyer, 
following on the same side, could urge, had left him 
persistently unshaken in his own point of view. To find 
the lost man, whose place he had usurped, was now the 
paramount interest of his life, and to inquire at the 
Foundling was plainly to take the first step in the 
direction of discovery. To the Foundling, accordingly, the 
wine-merchant now went. 

The once-familiar aspect of the building was altered to 
him, as the look of the portrait over the chimney-piece 
was altered to him. His one dearest association with 
the place which had sheltered his childhood had been 
broken away from it for ever. A strange reluctance 
possessed him, when he stated his business at the door. 



56 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

His heart ached as he sat alone in the waiting-room 
while the Treasurer of the institution was being sent for 
to see him. When the interview began, it was only by a 
painful effort that he could compose himself sufficiently 
to mention the nature of his errand. 

The Treasurer listened with a face which promised all 
needful attention, and promised nothing more. 

'" We are obliged to be cautious," he said, when it came 
his turn to speak, "about all iu([uiries which are made by 
strangers!" 

" You can hardly consider me a stranger," answered 
Wilding, simply. ** I was one of your poor lost children 
here, in the bygone time." 

The Treasurer politely rejoined that this circumstance 
inspired him with a special interest in his visitor. But 
he pressed, nevertheless, for his visitor's motive in making 
his inquiry. Without further preface, Wilding told him 
his motive, suppressing nothing. 

The Treasurer rose, and led the way into the room in 
which the registers of the institution were kept. " All the 
information which our books can give is heartily at your 
service," he said. " After the time that has elapsed, I 
am afraid it is the only information we have to offer 

you." 

The books were consulted, and the entry was found, 
expressed as follows : 

*' 3rd March, 1836. Adopted, and removed from the 
Foundling Hospital, a male infant, named Walter Wild- 
ing. Name and condition of the person adopting the 
child — Mrs. Jane Ann-]\Iiller, widow. Address — Lime- 
Tree Lodge, Groombridge Wells ; References — the 
Reverend John Harker, Groombridge Wells ; and Messrs. 
Giles, Jeremie, and Giles, bankers, Lombard-street." 

" Is that all ? " asked the wine-merchant. " Had you 
no after-communication with Mrs. Miller? " 



EXIT WILDING. 57 

** None^-or some reference to it must have appeared in 
this book." 

" May I take a copy of the entry ? " 

" Certainly ! You are a litfle agitated. Let me make 
the copy for you.'* 

" My only chance, I suppose," said Wilding, looking 
sadly at the copy, " is to inquire at Mrs. Miller's residence, 
and to try if her references can help me ? " 

" That is the only chance I see at present," answered 
the Treasurer. " I heartily wish I could have been of 
some further assistance to you. " 

With those farewell words to comfort him, Wilding set 
forth on the journey of investigation which began from 
tW Foundling doors. The first stage to make for, was 
plainly the house of business of the bankers in Lombard- 
street. Two of the partners in the firm were inaccessi])le 
to chance-visitors when lie asked for them. The third, 
after raising certain inevitable difficulties, consentfjd to let 
a clerk- examine the Ledger marked with the initial letter 
"M." The account of Mrs. Miller, widow, of Groom- 
bridge Wells, was found. Two long hues, in faded ink, 
were drawn across it ; and at the bottom of the page there 
appeared this note : "Account closed, September 30th, 
1837." 

So the first stage of the journey was reached — and so 
it ended in No Thoroughfare ! After sending a note to 
Cripple Corner to inform his partner that his absence 
might be prolonged for some hours, Wilding took his 
place in the train, and started for the second stage on the 
journey — Mrs. Miller's residence at Groombridge Wells. 

Mothers and children travelled with him ; mothers and 
children met each other at the station ; mothers and child- 
ren were in the shops when he entered them to inquire 
for Lime-Tree Lodge. Everywhere, the nearest and 
dearest of human relations showed itself happily in the 



58 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

happy light of day. Everywhere, he was reminded of 
the treasured delusion from which he had been awakened 
so cruelly — of the lost memory which had passed from 
him like a reflection from a glass. 

Inquiring here, inquiring there, he could hear of no 
such place as Lime-Tree Lodge. Passing a house-agent's 
office, he went in wearily, and put the question for the 
last time. The house-agent pointed across the street to a 
dreary mansion of many windows, which might have been 
a manufactory, but which was an hotel. " That's where 
Lime-Tree Lodge stood, sir," said the man, " ten years 
ago." 

The second stage reached, and No Thoroughfare again ! 

But one chance was left. The clerical reference, Mf. 
Harker, still remained to be found. Customers coming 
in at the moment to occupy the house-agent's attention. 
Wilding went down the street, and, entering a bookseller's 
shop, asked if he could be informed of the Reverend John 
Barker's present address. 

The bookseller looked unaffectedly shocked and aston- 
ished, and made no answer. 

Wilding repeated his question. 

The bookseller took up from his counter a prim little 
volume in a binding of sober grey. He handed it to his 
visitor, open at the title-page. Wilding read : 

" The martyrdom of the Reverend John Harker in New 
Zealand. Related by a former member of his flock." 

Wilding put the book down on the counter. " I beg 
your pardon," he said, thinking a little, perhaps, of his 
own present martyrdom while he spoke. The silent book- 
seller acknowledged the apology by a bow. Wilding went 
out. 

Third and last stage, and No Thoroughfare for the 
third and last time. 

Tliere was nothing more to be done ; there was absolu- 



EXIT WILDIXG. 59 

tely no choice but to go back to London, defeated at all 
points. From time to time on the return journey, the 
wine merchant looked at his copy of the eutry in the 
Foundling Register. There is one among the many 
forms of despair — ^perhaps the most pitiable of all — whirh 
persists in disguising itself as Hope. Wilding checkt><l 
himself in the act of throwing the useless morsel of paper 
out of the carriage window. " It may lead to somt-thing 
yet," he thought. " While I live, I won't part with it. 
When I die, my executors shall find it seah.d up with my 
will." 

Now, the mention of his will, set the good wine-merrh- 
ant on a new track of thought, without diverting his mind 
from its engrossing subject. He must make his will im- 
mediately. 

The application of the phrase No Thoroughfare to the 
case had originated with Mr. Bintrey. In their first con- 
ference following the discovery, that sagacious personage 
had a hundred times repeated, with an obstructive shake 
of the head, " No Thoroughfare, sir ; no thoroughfare. 
My belief is that there is no way out of this at this time of 
day, and my advice is, make yourself comfortable where 
you are." 

In the course of the protracted consultation, a magnum 
of the forty-five-year-old port wine had been produced for 
the wetting of Mr. Bintrey's legal whistle ; but the more 
clearly he saw his way through the wine, the more em- 
phatically he did not see his way through the case ; repeat- 
ing as often as he set his glass down empty, " Mr. Wilding, 
No thoroughfare. Rest and be thankful." 

It is certain that the honest wine-merchant's anxiety to 
make a will, originated in profound conscientiousness : 
though it is possible (and quite consistent with his recti- 
tude) that he may unconsciously have derived some feel- 
ing of relief from the prospect of delegating his own dif- 



60 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

ficulty to two other men who were to come after him. 
Be that as it may, he pursued his new track of thought 
with great ardor, and lost no time in begging George 
Vendale and Mr. Bintrey to meet him in Cripple Corner 
and share his confidence. 

" Being all three assembled with closed doors," said 
Mr. Bintrey, addressing the new partner on the occasion, 
" I wish to observe, before our friend (and my client) en- 
trusts us with his further views, that I have endorsed what 
I understand from him to have been your advice, Mr. 
Vendale, and what would be the advice of every sensible 
man. I have told him that he positively must keep his 
secret. I have spoken with Mrs. Goldstraw, both in his 
presence and in his absence ; and if anybody is to be trust- 
ed (which is a very large IF), I think she is to be trusted 
to that extent. I have pointed out to our friend (and my 
client), that to set on foot random inquiries would not 
only be to raise the Devil, in the likeness of all the swin- 
dlers in the kingdom, but would also be to waste the estate. 
Now, you see, Mr. Vendale, our friend (and my client) 
does not desire to waste the estate, but, on the contrary, 
desires to husband it for what he considers — ^but I can't 
say I do — the rightful owner, if such rightful owner 
should" ever be found. I am very much mistaken if he 
ever will be, but never mind that. Mr. Wilding and I 
are at least, agreed that the estate is not to be wasted. 
Now, I have yielded to Mr. Wilding's desire to keep an 
advertisement at intervals flowing through the newspapers, 
cautiously inviting any person who may know anything 
about that adopted infant, taken from the Foundling Hos- 
pital, to come to my office ; and I have pledged myself 
that such advertisement shall regularly appear. I have 
gathered from our friend (and my client) that I meet you 
here to-day to take his instructions, not to give him ad- 
vice. I am prepared to receive his instructions, and to 



EXIT WILDING. 61 

respect his wishes ; but you will please observe that that 
does not imply my approval of either as a matter of pro- 
fessional opinion." 

Thus Mr. Bintrey : talking quite as much at Wilding 
as to Vendale. And yet, in spite of his care for his cli- 
ent, he was so amused by his client's Quixotic conduct, as 
to eye him from time to time with twinkling eyes, in the 
light of a highly comical curiosity. 

'* Nothing," observed Wilding, " can be clearer. I 
only wish my head were as clear as yours, Mr. Bintrey." 

•* If you feel that singing in it coming," hinted the law- 
yer, with an alarmed glance, " put it off. — I mean the in- 
terview." 

" Not at all, I thank you," said Wilding. " What was I 
going to — " 

"Don't excite yourself, Mr. Wilding," urged the lawyer. 

" No ; I wasnH going to," said the wine-merchant. 
" Mr. Bintrey and George Vendale, would you have any 
hesitation or objection to become my joint trustees and 
executors, or can you at once consent ? " 

" I consent," replied George Vendale, readily. 

" I consent," said Bintrey, not so readily. 

" Thank you both. Mr. Bintrey, my instructions for my 
last will and testament are short and plain. Perhaps you 
will now have the goodness to take them down. I leave 
the whole of my real and personal estate, without any ex- 
ception or reservation whatsoever, to you two, my joint 
trustees and executors, in trust to pay over the whole to the 
true Walter Wilding, if he shall be found and identified 
within two years after the day of my death. Failing that 
in trust to you two to pay over the whole as a benefac- 
tion and legacy to the Foundling Hospital." 

*' Those are all your instructions, are they Mr. Wild- 
ing ? " demanded Bintrey, after a blank silence, during 
which nobody had looked at anybody. * 



62 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

" The whole." 

" And as to those instructions, you have absolutely 
made up your mind, Mr. Wilding ? " 

" Absolutely, decidedly, finally." 

" Tt only remains," said the lawyer, with one shrug of 
his shoulders, " to get them into technical and, binding 
form, and to execute and attest. Now does that press ? 
Is there any hurry about it ? You are not going to die yet 
sir." 

" Mr. Bintrey," answered Wilding, gravely, " when T 
am going to die is within other knowledge than yours or 
mine. I shall be glad to have this matter off my mind, 
if you please." 

" We are lawyer and client again," rejoined Bintrey, 
who, for, the nonce, had become almost sympathetic. 
" If this day week — here at the same hour — will suit Mr. 
Vendale and yourself, I will enter in my Diary that I at- 
tend you accordingly." 

The appointment was made, and in due sequence kept. 
The will was formally signed, sealed, delivered, and wit- 
nessed, and was carried off by Mr. Bintrey for safe stor- 
age among the papers of his clients, ranged in their re- 
spective iron boxes, with their respective owners' names 
outside, on iron tiers in his consulting-room, as if that le- 
gal sanctuary were a condensed Family Vault of Clients. 

With more heart than he had lately had for former 
subjects of interest. Wilding then set about completing 
his patriarchal establishment, being much assisted not only 
by Mrs. Goldstraw but by Vendale too : who perhaps, 
had in his mind the giving of an Obenreizer dinner as 
soon as possible. Anyhow, the establishment being re- 
ported in sound working order, the Obenreizers, Guar- 
dian and Ward, were asked to dinner, and Madame Dor 
was included in the invitation. If Vendale had been over 
head and ears in* love — before — a phrase not to be taken 



EXIT WILDING. 63 

as implying the faintest doubt about it — this dinner plun- 
ged him down in love ten thousand fathoms deep. Yet, 
for the life of him, he could not get one word alone with 
charming Marguerite. So surely as a blessed moment 
seemed to come, Obenreizer, in his filmy state, would 
stand at Vendale's elbow, or the broad back of Madame 
Dor would appear before his eyes. That speechless 51a- 
tron was never seen in a front view, from the moment of 
her arrival to that of her departure — except at dinner. And 
from the instant of her retirement to the drawing-room, 
after a hearty participation in that meal, she turned her 
face to the wall again. 

Yet, through four or ^ye delightful though distracting 
hours. Marguerite was to be seen. Marguerite was to be 
heard, Marguerite was to be occasionally touched. When 
they made the round of the old dark cellars, Vendale led 
her by the hand ; when she sang to him in the lighted room 
at night, Vendale, standing by her, held her relinquished 
gloves, and would have bartered against them every drop of 
the forty-five year old, though it had been forty-five times 
forty-five years old, and its nett price forty-five times forty- 
five pounds per dozen. And still, when she was gone, and a 
great gap of an extinguisher was clapped on Cripple Cor- 
ner, he tormented himself by wondering. Did she think 
that he admired her ! Did she think that he adored her ! 
Did she suspect that she had won him, heart and soul ! 
Did she care to think at all about it ! And so. Did 
she and Didn't she, up and down the gamut, and above 
the line and below the line, dear, dear ! Poor restless 
heart of humanity ! To think that the men who were 
mummies thousands of years ago, did the same, and ever 
found the secret how to be quiet after it ! 

" What do you think, George," Wilding asked him / 

next day, " Of Mr Obenreizer ? (I won't ask you what 

you think of Miss Obenreizer)." 

3* 



64 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

I 

"I don't know." said Vendale, " and I never did know, 
what to think of him." 

" He is well informed and clever," said Wilding. 

" Certainly clever," 

" A good musician." (He had played very well, and 
sung very well, overnight.) 

" Unquestionably a good musician." 

" And talks well." 

" Yes," said George Vendale, ruminating, '* and talks 
well. Do you know. Wilding, it oddly occurs to me, as I 
think about him, that he doesn't keep silence well ! " 

" How do you mean ? He is not obtrusively talkative." 

" No, and I don't mean that. But when he is silent, you 
can hardly help vaguely, though perhaps most unjustly, 
mistrusting him ! Take people whom you know and like. 
Take any one you know and like." 

" Soon done, my good fellow," said Wilding. " I take 

you." 

" I didn't bargain for that, or foresee it," returned Ven- 
dale, laughing. " However, take me. Reflect for a mo- 
ent. Is your approving knowledge of my interesting face, 
mainly founded (however various the momentary expres- 
sions it may include) on my face when I am silent ? " 

" I think it is," said Wilding. 

" I think so too. Now, you see, when Obenreizer 
speaks — in other words, when he is allo\Yed to explain 
himself away — he comes out right enough ; but when he 
has not the opportunity of explaining liimself away, he 
comes out rather wrong. Therefore it is, that I say he 
does not keep silence well. And passing hastily in re- 
view such faces as I know, and don't trust, I am inclined 
to think, now I give my mind to it, that none of them 
keep silence well." 

This proposition in Physiognomy being now to Wilding, 
he was at flrst slow to admit it, until asking himself the 



EXIT WILDING. 65 

question whether Mrs. Goldstraw kept silence well, and 
remembering that her face in repose decidedly invited 
trustfulness, he was as glad as men usually are to believe 
what they desire to believe. 

But, as he was very slow to regain his spirits or his 
health, his partner, as another means of setting him up — 
and perhaps also with contingent Obenreizer views — re- 
minded him of those musical schemes of his in connection 
with his family, and how a singing-class was to be formed 
in the house, and a Choir in a neighboring church. The 
class was established speedily, and two or three of the 
people having already some musical knowledge, and sing- 
ing tolerably, the Choir soon . followed. The latter was 
led and chiefly taught, by Wilding himself, who had 
hopes of converting his dependents into so many Found- 
lings, in respect of their capacity to sing sacred choruses. 

Now, the Obenreizers being skilled musicians, it was 
easily brought to pass that they should be asked to join 
these musical unions. Guardian and Ward consenting, 
or Guardian consenting for both, it was necessarily 
brought to pass that Veudale's life became a life of abso- 
lute thraldom and enchantment. For, in the mouldy 
Christopher- Wren church on Sundays, with its dearly be- 
loved brethren assembled and met together,five-and-twenty 
strong, was not that Her voice that shot like light into the 
darkest places, thrilling the walls and pillars as though 
they were pieces of his heart ! What time too, Madame 
Dor, in a comer of the high pew, turning her back upon 
everybody and everything, could not fail to be Ritualis- 
tically right at some moment of the service ; like the 
man whom the doctors recommended to get drunk once a 
month, and who, that he might not overlook it, got drunk 
every day. 

But, even those seraphic Sundays, were surpassed by the 
Wednesday concerts established for the patriarchal family , 



66 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

At those concerts she would sit down to the piano and 
sing them, in her own tongue, songs of her own land, 
songs calling from the mountain-tops to Vendale, " Rise 
above the grovelling level country ; come far away from 
the crowd ; pursue me as I mount higher, higher, higher, 
melting into the azure dist;^nce ; rise to my suprei^iest 
height of all, and love me there ! " Then would the pret- 
ty bodice, the clocked stocking, and the silver-buckled 
shoe be, like the broad forehead and the bright eyes, 
fraught with the spring of a very chamois, until the strain 
was over. 

Not even over Vendale himself, did these songs of hers 
cast a more potent spell than over Joey Ladle in his differ- 
ent way. Steadily refusing to muddle the harmony by 
taking any share in it and evincing the supremest con- 
tempt for scales and such like rudiments of music — which, 
indeed, seldom captivate mere listeners — Joey did at first 
give up the whole business for a bad job, and the whole 
of the performers for a set of howling Dervishes. But 
descrying traces of unmuddled harmony in a part-song one 
day, he gave his two under-cellarmen faint hopes of get- 
ting on towards somethino^ in course of time. An an- 
them of HandeFs led to further encouragement from him ; 
though he objected that that great musician must have 
been down in some of them foreign cellars pretty much, 
for to go and say the same thing so many times over ; 
which, took it in how you might, he considered a certain 
sign of your having took it in somehow. On a third oc- 
casion, the public appearance of Mr. Jarvis with a flute, 
and of an old man with a violin, and the performance of 
a duet by the two, did so astonish him that, solely of his 
impulse and motion, he became inspired with the words, 
" Ann Koar ! " repeatedly pronouncing them as if calling 
in a familiar manner for some lady who had distinguished 
herself in the orchestra. But this was his final testimony to 

s 
\ 



EXIT WILDING. 67 

the merits of his mates, for, the instrumental duet being 
performed at the first Wednesday concert, and being pre- 
sently followed by the voice of Marguerite Obenreizer, he 
sat with his mouth wide open, entranced, until she had 
finished ; when, rising in his place with much solemnity, 
and prefacing what he was about to say with a bow that 
specially included Mr. Wilding in it, he delivered himself 
of the gratifying sentiment : '' Arter that, ye may all on ye 
get to bed ! " And ever afterwards declined to render 
homage in any other words to the musical powers of the 
family. 

Thus began a separate personal acquaintance between 
Marguerite Obenreizer and Joey Ladle. She laughed so 
heartily at his compliment, and yet was so abashed by it, 
that Joey made bold to say to her, after the concert was 
over, he hoped he wasn't so muddled in his head as to 
have took a liberty ? She made him a gracious reply, 
and Joey ducked in return. 

"' You'll change the luck time about. Miss," said Joey, 
ducking again. " It's such as you in the place that can 
bring round the luck of the place." 

" Can I ? Round the luck ? " she answered, in her 
pretty English, and with a pretty wonder. " I fear I do 
not understand. I am so stupid." 

" Young Master Wilding, Miss," Joey explained con- 
fidentially, though not much to her enlightenment, " chang- 
ed the luck, afore he took in young Master George. So 
I say, and so they'll find. Lord ! Only come into the 
place and sing over the luck a few times. Miss, and it 
won't be able to help itself ! " 

With this, and with a whole brood of ducks, Joey back- 
ed out of the presence. But Joey being a privileged 
person, and even an involuntary conquest being pleasant 
to youth and beauty. Marguerite merrily looked out for 
him next time. 



68 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

" Where is my Mr. Joey, please ? " she asked of Ven- 
dale. 

So Joey was produced and shaken hands with, and that 
became an Institution. 

Another Institution arose in this wise. Joey was a 
little hard of hearing. He himself said it was " Wapors," 
ond perhaps it might have been ; but whatever the cause 
of the effect, there the effect was, upon him. On this 
first occasion, he had been seen to sidle along the wall, 
with his left hand to his left ear, until he had sidled him- 
self into a seat pretty near the singer, in which place and 
position he had remained, until addressing to his friends 
the amateurs the compliment before mentioned. It was 
observed on the following Wednesday that Joey's action 
as a Pecking Machine, was impaired at dinner and it was 
rumored about the table that this was explainable by his 
high-strung expectations of Miss Obenreizer's singing, 
and his fears of not getting a place whore he could hear 
every note and syllable. The rumor reaching Wilding's 
eal-s, he in his good nature called Joey to the front at 
night before Marguerite began. Thus the Institution 
came into being that on succeeding nights, Marguerite, 
running her hands over the keys before singing, always 
said to Vendale, " Where is my Mr. Joey, please ? " and 
that Vendale always brought him forth, and stationed 
him near by. That he should then, when all eyes were 
upon him, express in his face the utmost contempt for the 
exertions of his friends and confidence in Marguerite 
alone, whom he would stand contemplating, not unlike 
the rhinoceros out of the spelling-book, tamed and on his 
hind legs, was a part of the Institution. Also that when 
he remained after the singing in his most ecstatic state, 
some bold spirit from the back should say, " What do you 
think of it, Joey ? " and he should be goaded to reply, as 
having that instant conceived the retort, " Arter that ye 



EXIT WILDING. 69 

may all on ye get to bed ! " These were other parts of 
the Institution. 

But the simple pleasures and small jests of Cripple 
Corner were not destined to have a long life. Underly- • 
ing them from the first was a serious matter, which every 
member of the patriarchal family knew of^ but which by 
tacit agreement, all forebore to speak of, Mr. Wilding's 
health was in a bad way. 

He might have overcome the shock he had sustained in 
the one great affection of his life, or he might have over- 
come his consciousness of being in the enjoyment of an- 
other man's property ; but the two together were too 
much for him. A man haunted by twin ghosts, he be- 
came deeply depressed. The inseparable spectres sat at 
the board with him, ate from his platter, drank from his 
cup, and stood by his bedside at night. When he recall- 
ed his supposed mother's love, he felt as though he had 
stolen it. When he rallied a little under the respect and 
attachment of his dependents, he felt as though he were 
even fraudulent in making them happy, for that should 
have been the unknown man's duty and gratification. 

Gradually, under the pressure of his brooding mind, 
his body stooped, his step lost its elasticity, his eyes 
were seldom lifted from the ground. He knew he could 
not help the deplorable mistake that had been made, but 
he knew he could not mend it ; for the days and weeks 
went by, and no one claimed his name or his possessions. 
And now there began to creep over him, a cloudy con- 
sciousness of often-recurring confusion in his head. He 
would unaccountably lose, sometimes whole hours, some- 
times a whole day and night. Once, his remembrance 
stopped as he sat at the head of the dinner-table, and was 
blank until daybreak. Another time, it stopped as he 
was beating time to their singing, and went on again when 
he and his partner were walking in the courtyex^Vs^ ^'^ 



70 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

light of the moon, half the night later. He asked Ven- 
dale (always full of consideration, work, and help) how 
this was ? Vendale only replied, " You have not been 
quite well ; that's all." He looked for explanation into 
the faces of his people. But they would put it off with, 
"Glad to see you looking so much better, sir ; " or " Hope 
you're doing nicely now, sir ; " in which was no informa- 
tion at all. 

At length, when the partnership was but live months 
old, Walter Wilding took to his bed and his housekeeper 
became his nurse. 

" Lying here, perhaps you will not mind my calling 
you Sally, Mrs. Goldstraw ? " said the poor wine-mer- 
chant. 

** It sounds more natural to me, sir, than any other 
name, and I like it better." 

"Thank you, Sally. I think, Sally, I must of late 
have been subject to fits. Is that so, Sally ? Don't 
mind telling me now." 

"It has happened, sir." 

" Ah ! That is the explanation ! " he quietly remarked. 

" Mr. Obenreizer, Sally, talks of the world being so 
small that it is not strange how often the same people 
come together, and come together, at various places, and 
in various stages of life. But it does seem strange, Sally, 
that I should, as I may say, come round to the Foundling 
to die." 

He extended his hand to her, and she gently took it. 

" You are not going to die, dear Mr. Wilding." 

" So Mr. Bintrey said, but I think he was wrong. The 
old child-feeling is coming back upon me, Sally. The old 
hush and rest, as I used to fall asleep." 

After an interval he said, in a placid voice, " Please 
kiss me, Nurse," and, it was evident, believed himself to 
he lyinst '« **»<5 old Donnitory. 



EXIT WILDING. 71 

As she had been .used to bend over the fatherless and 
motherless children, Sally bent over the fatherless and 
motherless man, and put her lips to his forehead murmur- 
ing: 

" God bless you ! " 

" God bless you ! " he replied, in the same tone. 

After another interval, he opened his eyes in his own 
character, and said : " Don't move me, Sally, because of 
what I am going to say ; I lie quite easily. I think my 
time is come. I don't know how it may appear to you, 
Sally, but " 

Insensibility fell upon him for a few minutes ; he em- 
erged from it once more. 

" — J don't know how it may appear to you, Sally but 
60 it appears to me." 

When he had thus conscientiously finished his favorite 
sentence, his time came, and he died. 

4 



72 NO THOROUGHFARE. 



ACT 11. 

VENDALE MAKES LOVE. 

THE summer and the autumn had passed. Christmas 
and the New Year were at hand. 
* As executors honestly bent on performing their duty 
towards the dead, Vendale and Bintrev had held more 
than one anxious consultation on the subject of Wilding's 
wHl. The lawyer had declared, from the first, that it was 
simply impossible to take any useful action in the matter 
at all. The only obvious inquiries to make, in relation 
to the lost man, had been made already by Wilding him- 
self ; with this result, that time and death together had 
not left a trace of him diHcoverable. To advertise for 
the claimant to the jiropcu'ty, it would be necessary to 
mention particnilars — a courHc^ of prociioding which would 
invite half the impoHtors in Kngland to pr(\sent themselves 
in the character of the true Walt(»r Wil(lin<;. ** If we 
find a chance of tracing the lost man, we will take it. If 
we don't let us meet for another conKultation on tlie first 
anniversary of Wilding's death." So Iiintn\v advised. 
And so, with the most earnest d<mirt^ to fullll his dead 
friend's wishes, Vendale was fain to let tlie matter rest 
for the present. 

Turning from his interest in the past to his interest in 
the future, Vendale still found himself oonfrontioar a 



VENDALB MAKES LOVE. 73 

doubtful prospect. Months on months had passed since 
his first visit to Soho-square — and through all that time, 
the one language in which he had told Marguerite that 
he loved her was the language of the eyes, assisted, at 
convenient opportunities, by the language of the hand. 

What was the obstacle in his way ? The one immova- 
ble obstacle which had been In his way from the first. 
No matter how fairly the opportunities looked, Vendale's 
efforts to speak with Marguerite alone, ended invariably 
in one and the same result. Under the most accidental 
circumstances, in the most innocent manner possible, 
Obenreizer was always in the way. 

With the last days of the old year came an unexpected ■ 
chance of spending an evening with Marguerite, which 
Vendale resolved should be a chance of speaking privately 
to her as well. A cordial note from Obenreizer invited 
him, on New Year's Day, to a little family dinner in 
Soho-square. " We shall be only four," the note said. 
" We shall be only two," Vendale determined, " before 
the evening is out." 

New Year's Day, among the English, is associated with 
the giving and receiving of dinners, and with nothing 
more. New Year's Day, among the foreigners, is the 
grand opportunity of the year for the giving and receiv- 
ing of presents. It is occasionally possible to acclimatize 
a foreign custom. In this instance, Vendale felt no hesi- 
tation about making the attempt. Ilis one difficulty was 
to decide what his New Year's gift to Marguerite should 
be. The defensive pride of the peasant's daughter — 
morbidly sensitive to the inequality between her sooial 
position and his — would be secretly roused against him if 
he ventured on a rich offering. A gift, which a poor 
man's purse might purchase, was the one gift that could 
be trusted to find its way to her heart, for the giver's sake. 
Stoutly resisting temptation, in the form of diamonds and 



74 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

rubies, Vendale bought a brooch of the filagree-work of 
Genoa — the simplest and most unpretending ornament 
that he could find in the jeweller's shop. 

He slipped his gift into Marguerite's hand as she held 
it out to welcome him on the day of the dinner. 

" This is your first New Year's Day in England," he 
said. "Will you let me help to make it like a New 
Year's Day at home?" 

She thanked him, a little constrainedly, as she looked 
at the jeweller's box, uncertain what it might contain. 
Opening the box, and discovering the studiously simple 
form under which Vendale's little keepsake offered itself 
to her, she penetrated his motive on the spot. Her face 
turned on him brightly, with a look which said, " I own 
you have pleased and flattered me." Never had she been 
so charming, in Vendale's eyes, as she was at that mo-* 
ment. Her winter dress — a petticoat of dark silk, with a 
bodice of black velvet rising to her neck, and enclosing 
it softly in a little circle of swansdown — heightened, by 
all the force of contrast, the dazzling fairness of her hair 
and her complexion. It was only when she turned aside 
from him to the glass, and, taking out the brooch that she 
wore, put his New Year's gift in its place, that Vendale's 
attention wandered far enough away from her to discover 
the presence of other persons in the room. He now be- 
came conscious that the hands of Obenreizer were affec- 
tionately in possession of his elbows. He now heard the 
voice of Obenreizer thanking him for his attention to 
Marguerite, with the faintest possible ring of mockery in 
its tone. (" Such a simple present, dear sir ! and show- 
ing such nice tact ! ") He now discovered, for the first 
time, that there was one other guest, and but one, besides 
himself, wliom Obenreizer presented as a compatriot and 
friend. The friend's face was mouldy, and the friend's 
figure was fat. His age was suggestive of the autumnal 



VENDALE MAKES LOVE. 75 

period of human life. In the course of the evening, he devel- 
oped two extraordinary capacities. One was a capacity for 
silence ; the other was a capacity for emptying bottles. 

Madame Dor was not in the room. Neither was there 
any visible place reserved for her when they sat down to 
table. Obenreizer explained that it was " the good Dor's 
simple habit to dine always in the middle of the day. 
She would make her excuses later in the evening." Ven- 
dale wondered whether the good Dor had on this oc- 
casion, varied her domestic employment from cleaning 
Obenreizer's gloves to cooking Obenreizer's dinner. 
This, at least, was certain — the dishes served were, one 
and all, as achievements in cookery, high above the reach 
of the rude elementary art of England. The dinner was 
unobtrusively perfect. As for the wine, the eyes of the 
speechless friend rolled over it, as in solemn ecstasy. 
Sometimes he said "Good ! " when a bottle came in full ; 
and sometimes he said " Ah !" when a bottle went out 
empty — and there his contributions to the gayety of the 
evening ended. 

Silence is occasionally infectious. Oppressed by pri- 
vate anxieties of their own, Marguerite and Vendale ap- 
peared to feel the influence of the speechless friend. 
The whole responsibility of keeping the talk going rested 
on Obenreizer's shoulders, and manfully did Obenreizer 
sustain it. He opened his heart in the character of an 
enlightened foreigner, and sang the praises of England. 
When other topics ran* dry, . he returned to this in- 
exhaustible source, and always set the stream running 
again as copiously as ever. Obenreizer would have 
given an arm, an eye, or a leg to have been born an Eng- 
lishman. Out of England there was no such institution 
as a home, no such thing as a fireside, no such object as 
a beautiful woman. His dear Miss Marguerite would ex- 
case him, if he accounted for her attractions oi^ ^^^ 



76 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

theory that English blood must have mixed at some for- 
mer time with their obscure and unknown ancestry. 
Survey this English nation, and behold a tall, clean, 
plump, and solid people ! Look at their cities ! what 
magnificence in their public buildings ! what admirable 
order and propriety in their streets ! Admire their laws, 
combining the eternal principle of justice with the other 
eternal principle of pounds, shillings, and pence ; and 
applying the product to all civil injuries, from an injury 
to a man's honor, to an injury to a man's nose ! You 
have ruined my daughter — pounds, shillings, and pence ! 
You have knocked me down with a blow in my face — 
pounds, shillings, and pence ! Where was the material 
prosperity of such a country as that to stop? Oben- 
reizer, projecting himself into the future, failed to see the 
end of it. Obenreizer's enthusiasm entreated permission 
to exhale itself, English fashion, in a toast. Here is our 
modest little dinner over, here is our frugal dessert on 
the table, and here is the admirer of England conforming 
to national customs, and making a speech ! A toast to 
your white cliffs of Albion, Mr. Vendale ! to your nation- 
al virtues, your charming climate, and your fascinating 
women ! to your Hearths, to your Homes, to your Habeas 
Corpus, and to all your other institutions ! In one word 
— to England ! Heep-heep-heep ! hooray ! 

Obenreizer's voice had barely chanted the last note of 
the English cheer, the speechless. friend had barely drain- 
ed the last drop out of his glass, when the festive pro- 
ceedings were interrupted by a modest tap at the door. 
A woman-servant came in, and approached her master 
with a little note in her hand. Obenreizer opened the 
note with a frown ; and after reading it with an ex- 
pression of genuine annoyance, passed it on to his com- 
patriot and friend. Vendale's spirits rose as he watched 
these proceedini(8« Had he found an ally in the annoy- 



VENDALE MAKES LOVE. 77 

ing little note ? Was the long-looked-for chance actually 
coming at last ? 

"I am afraid there is no help for it?" said Obenreizer, 
addressing his fellow-countryman. " I am afraid we 
must go." 

The speechless friend handed back the letter, shrugged 
his heavy shoulders, and poured himself out a last glass 
of wine. His fat fingers lingered fondly round the neck 
of the bottle. They pressed it with a little amatory 
squeeze at parting. His globular eyes looked dimly, as 
through an intervening haze, at Vendale and Marguerite. 
His heavy articulation labored, and brought forth a whole 
sentence at a birth. ''1 think, " he said, " I should have 
liked a little more wine. " His breath failed him after 
that effort ; he gasped, and walked to the door. 

Obenreizer addressed himself to Vendale with an ap- 
pearance of the deepest distress. 

" I am so shocked, so confused, so distressed " he began. 
"A misfortune has happened to one of my compatriots. 
He is alone, he is ignorant of your language — I and my 
good friend, here, have no choice but to go and help him. 
What can I say in my excuse ? How can I describe my 
affliction at depriving myself in this way of the honor of 
your company ?" 

He paused, evidently expecting to see Vendale take up 
his hat and retire. Discerning his opportunity at last, 
Vendale determined to do nothing of the kind. He met 
Obenreizer dexterously, with Obenreizer's own weapons. 

" Pray don't distress yourself," he said. " I'll wait 
here with the greatest pleasure till you come back." 

Marguerite blushed deeply, and turned away to her 
embroidery-frame in a corner by the window. The film 
showed itself in Obenreizer's eyes, and the smile came 
something sourly to Obenreizer's lips. To have told 
Vendale that there was no reasonable prospect of his 



78 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

coming back in good time would have been to risk offend- 
ing a man whose favorable opinion was of solid commer- 
cial importance to him. Accepting his defeat with the 
best possible grace, he declared himself to be equally 
honored and delighted by Vi-ndale's proposaL '• So frank, 
so friendly, so English I " He bustled about, apparently 
looking for something he wanted, disappeared for a mo- 
ment through the folding-doors communicating with the 
next room, came back with his hat and coat, and protes- 
ting that he would return at the earliest possible moment, 
unbraced Vendale's elbows, and vanished from the scene 
in company with the speechless friend. 

Vendale turned to the comer by the window, in which 
Marguerite had placed herself with her work. There, as 
if she had dropped from the ceiling, or come up through 
the floor — there, in the old attitude, with her face to the 
stove — sat an Obstacle that had not been foreseen, in the 
person of Madame Dor ! She half got up, half looked 
over her broad shoulder at Vendale, and plumped down 
again. Was she at work ? Yes. Cleaning Obenreizer's 
gloves, as before ? No ; darning Obenreizer's stockings. 

The case was now desperate. Two serious consider- 
ations presented themselves to Vendale. Was it possible 
to put Madame Dor into the stove ? The stove wouldn't 
hold her. Was it possible to treat Madame Dor, not as a 
living woman, but as an article of furniture ? Could the 
mind be brought to contemplate this respectable matron 
purely in the light of a chest of drawers, with a black 
gauze head-dress accidentally left on the top of it ? Yes, 
the mind could be brought to do that. With a compara- 
tively trifling effort, Vendale's mind did it. As he took 
his place on the old-fashioned window-seat, close by Mar- 
guorito and her embroidery, a slight movement appeared 
in the chest of drawers, but no remark issued from it. 
l<«t it bo remembered that solid furniture is not easy to 



VENDALE MAKES LOVE. 79 

move, and that it has this advantage in consequence — 
there is no fear of upsetting it. 

Unusually silent and unusually constrained — with the 
bright color fast fading from her face, with a feverish en- 
ergy possessing her fingers — the pretty Marguerite bent 
over her embroidery, and worked as if her life depended 
on it. Hardly less agitated himself, Vendale felt the im- 
portance of leading her very gently to the avowal which 
he was eager to make — to the other sweeter avowal still, 
which he was longing to hear. A woman's love is never 
to be taken by storm ; it yields insensibly to a system of 
gradual approach. It ventures by the roundabout way, 
and listens to the low voice. Vendale led her memory 
back to their past meetings wlien they were travelling to- 
gether in Switzerland. They revived the impressions, 
they recalled the events, of the happy bygone time. Little 
by little. Marguerite's constraint vanished. She smiled, she 
was interested, she looked at Vendale, she grew idle with 
her needle, she made false stitches in her work. Their 
voices sank lower and lower ; their faces bent nearer and 
nearer to each other as they spoke. And Madame Dor ? 
Madame Dor behaved like an angel. She never looked 
round ; she never said a word ; she- went on with Oben- 
reizer's stockings. Pulling each stocking up tight over 
her left arm, and holding that arm aloft from time to 
time, to catch the light on her work, there were moments, 
delicate and indescribable moments, when Madame Dor 
appeared to be sitting upside down; and contemplating 
one of her own respectable legs elevated in the air. As 
the minutes wore on, these elevations followed each 
other at longer and longer intervals. Now and again, 
the black gauze head-dress nodded,* dropped forward, re- 
covered itself. A little heap of stockings slid softly from 
Madame Dor's lap, and remained unnoticed on the floor. 
A prodigious ball of worsted followed the stockings, and 



80 KO THOROUGHFARE. 

rolled lazily under the table. The black gauze head- 
dress nodded, dropped forward, recovered itself, nodded 
again, dropped forward again, and recovered itself no 
more. A composite sound, partly as of the purring of an 
immense cat, partly as of the planing of a soft board, rose 
over the hushed voices of the lovers, and hummed at reg- 
ular intervals through the room. Nature and Madame 
Dor had combined together in Vendale's interests. The 
best of women was asleep. 

Marguerite rose to stop — not the snoring — let us say 
the audible repose of Madame Dor. Vendale laid his 
hand on her arm, and pressed her back gently into her chair. 

" Don't disturb her,'* he whispered. " I have been 
waiting to tell you a secret. Let me tell it now." 

Marguerite resumed her seat. She tried to resume 
her needle. It was useless ; her eyes failed her ; her 
hand failed her ; she could find nothing. 

" We have been talking," said Vendale," of the happy 
time when we first met, and first travelled together. I 
have a confession to make. I have been concealing 
something. When we spoke of my first visit to Switzer- 
land, I told you of all the impressions I had brought back 
with me to England — except one. Can you guess what 
that one is ? " 

Her eyes looked steadfastly at the embroidery, and 
her face turned a little away from him. Signs of disturb- 
ance began to appear in her neat velvet bodice, round 
the region of the brooch. She made no reply. Vendale 
pressed the question without mercy. 

" Can you guess what the one Swiss impression is, 
which I have not told you yet ? " 

Her face turned back towards him, and a faint smile 
trembled on her lips. 

^' An im{f!*ession of the mountains^ perhaps ? " she said, 
slyly. 



YENDALE MAKES LOVE. 81 

" No ; a much more precious impression than that." 

« Of the lakes ? " 

" No. The lakes have not grown dearer and dearer in 
remembrance to me every day. The lakes are not as- 
sociated with my happiness in the present, and my hopes 
in the future. Marguerite ! all that makes life worth 
having, hangs, for me, on a word from your lips. 
Marguerite ! I love you." 

Her head drooped, as he took her hand. He drew her 
to him, and looked at her. The tears escaped from her 
downcast eyes, and fell slowly over her cheeks. 

" Oh, Mr.*V"endale," she said, sadly, " it would have 
been kinder to have kept your secret. Have you forgot- 
ten the distance between us ? It can never, never, be ! " 

" There can be but one distance between us. Mar- 
guerite — a distance of your making. My love, my dar- 
ling, there is no higher rank in goodness, there is no 
higher rank in beauty than yours ! Come ! whisper the 
* one little word which tells me you will be my wife I '* 

She sighed bitterly. " Think of your family, " she 
murmured ; '* and think of mine ! " 

Vendale drew her a little nearer to him. 

" If you dwell on such an obstacle as that, " he said, 

"I shall think but one thought— I shall think I have 

offended you." 

She started, and looked up. '< Oh, no ! " she exclaimed, 

innocently. The instant the words passed her lips, she 
saw the construction that might be placed on them. Her 
confession had escaped her in spite of herself, A lovely 
flush of color overspread her face. She made a moment- 
ary effort to disengage herself from her lover's embrace. 
She looked up at him entreatingly. She tried to speak. 
The words died on her lips in the kiss that Vendale 
pressed on them. " Let me go, Mr* Vendale ! " she said, 
faintly. 



82 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

" CaU me George." 

She laid her head on his bosom. All her hearr went 
out to him at last. " George I " she whispered. 

" Say you love me ! " 

Her arms twined themselves gently round hie neck. 
Her lips timidly touching his cheek, murmured the de- 
licious words — " I love you ! " 

In the moment of silence that followed, the soand of 
the opening and closing of the house-door came clear to 
them through the wintry stillness of the street. 

Marguerite started to her feet. 

" Let me go ! " she said. " He has come back * " 

She hurried from the room, and touched Madame 
Dor's shoulder in passing. Madame Dor woke up with a 
loud snort, looked first over one shoulder and then over 
the other, peered down into her lap, and discovered 
neither stockings, worsted nor darning-needle in it. At 
the same moment, footsteps became audible ascending the 
stairs. " Mon Dieu ! " said Madame Dor, addressing hei 
self to the stove, and trembling violently. Vendale 
picked up the stockings and the ball, and huddled them 
all back in a heap over her shoulder. " Mon Dieu ! *' 
said Madame Dor, for the second time, as the avalanche 
of worsted poured into her capacious lap. 

The door opened, and Obenreizer came in. His first 
glance round the room showed him that Marguerite was 
absent. 

" What ! " he exclaimed, " my niece is away ? My 
niece is not here to entertain you in my absence ? This 
is unpardonable. I shall bring her back instantly." 

Vendale stopped him. , 

" I beg you will not disturb Miss Obenreizer," he said. 
"You have returned, I see, without your friend ?" 

"My friend remains, and consoles our afilicted com- 
patriot. A heart-rending scene, Mr. Yendale ! The 



VENDALE MAKES LOVE. 83 

household gods at the pawnbroker's — the family im- 
mersed in tears. We all embraced in silence. My ad- 
mirable friend alone possessed his composure. He sent 
out, on the spot, for a bottle of wine." 

" Can I say a word to you in private, Mr. Obenreizer ? " 

" Assuredly." He turned to Madame Dor. ** My 
good creature, you are sinking for want of repose. Mr 
Vendale will excuse you." 

Madame Dor rose, and set forth sideways on her jour- 
ney from the stove to her bed. She dropped a stocking. 
Vendale picked it up for her, and opened one of the fold- 
ing-doors. She advanced a step, and dropped" three more 
stockings. Vendale, stooping to recover them as before, 
Obenreizer interfered with profuse apologies, and with a 
warning look at Madame Dor. Madame Dor acknow- 
ledged the look by dropping the whole of the stockings 
in a heap, and then shuffling away panic-stricken from 
the scene of disaster. Obenreizer swept up the com- 
plete collection fiercely in both hands. " Go ! " he 
cried giving his prodigious handful a preparatory swing 
in the air. Madame Dor said, " Mon Dieu," and 
vanished into the next room, pursued by a shower of 
stockings. 

" What must you think, Mr. Vendale, " said Obenrei- 
zer, closing the door, " of this deplorable intrusion of do- 
mestic details ? For myself, I blush at it. We are be- 
ginning the New Year as badly as possible ; everything 
has gone wrong to-night. Be seated, pray— rand say, 
what may I offer you ? Shall we pay our best respects 
to another of your noble English institutions ? It is my 
study to be, what you call jolly. I propose a grog." 

Vendale declined the grog with all needfid respect for 
that noble institution. 

" I wish to speak to you on a subject in which I am 
deeply interested, " he said. " You must have observed, 



84 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

Mr. Obenreizer, that I have, from the first, felt no ordi- 
nary admiration for your charming niece ?" 

** You are very good. In my niece's name, I thank 
you." 

" Perhaps you may have noticed, latterly, that my ad- 
miration for Miss Obenreizer has grown into a tenderer 
and deeper feeling ? " 

" Shall we say friendship, Mr. Vendale ? " 

" Say love — and we shall be nearer to the truth." 

Obenreizer started out of his chair. The faintly dis- 
cernible heat, which was his nearest approach to a change 
of color, showed itself suddenly in his cheeks. 

" You are Miss Obenreizer's guardian," pursued Ven- 
dale. '* I ask you to confer upon me the greatest of all 
favors — I ask you to give me her hand in marriage." 

Obenreizer dropped back into his chair. "Mr. Ven- 
dale," he said, " you petrify me." 

" I will wait," rejoined Vendale, *^ until you have re- 
covered yourself." 

"One word before I recover myself. You 'have said 
nothing about this to my niece ? " 

" I have opened my whole heart to your niece. And I 
have reason to hope — '* 

" What ! " interposed Obenreizer. " You have made a 
proposal to my niece, without first asking for my authority 
to pay your addresses to her ? " He struck his hand on 
the table, and lost his hold over himself for the first time 
in Vendarle's experience of him. '' Sir ! " he exclaimed 
indignantly, ** what sort of conduct is this ? As a man of 
honor, speaking to a man of honor, how can you justify 
it?" 

" I can only justify it as one of our English institutions." 
said Vendale quietlv. " You admire our English institu- 
tions. I can't honestly tell you, Mr. Obenreizer, that I 
regret what I have done. I can only assure you that I 



VENDALE MAKES LOVE. 85 

have not acted in the matter with any intentional disrespect 
towards yourself. This said, may I ask you to tell me 
plainly what objection you see to favoring my suit ? " 

** I see this immense objection," answered Obenreizer, 
" that my niece and you are not on a social equality to- 
gether. My niece is the daughter of a poor peasant ; and 
you are the son of a gentleman. You do us an honor," 
he added, lowering himself gradually to his customary 
polite level, " which deserves, and has, our most grateful 
acknowledgments. But the inequality is too glaring ; the 
sacnfice is too great. You English are a proud people, 
Mr. Vendale. T have observed enough of this country to 
see that such a marriage as you propose would be a scandal 
here. Not a hand would be held out to your peasant-wife ; 
and all your best friends would desert you." 

" One moment," said Vendale, interposing on his side. 
" I may claim without any great arrogance, to know more 
of my country-people in general, and of my friends in par- 
ticular, than you do. In the estimation of everybody 
whose opinion is worth having, my wife herself would be 
the one sufficient justification of my marriage. If I did 
not feel certain — observe, I say certain — that I am offer- 
ing her a position which she can accept without so much 
as the shadow of a humiliation — I would never (cost me 
what it might) have asked her to be my wife. Is there 
any other obstacle that you see ? Have you any personal 
objection to me ? " 

Obenreizer spread out both his hands in courteous pro- 
test. " Personal objection ! " he exclaimed. " Dear sir, 
the bare question is painful to me." 

" We are both men of business," pursued Vendale, 
" and you naturally expect me to satisfy you that I have 
the means of supporting a wife. I can explain my pecu- 
nary position in two words. I inherit from my parents a 
fortune of twenty thousand pounds. In half of that sum 



86 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

I have only a life-interest, to which if I die, leaving a 
widow, my widow succeeds. If I die, leaving children, 
the money itself is divided among them, as they come of 
age. The other half of my fortune is at my own disposal, 
and is invested in the wine-business. I see my way to 
greatly improving that business. As it stands at present, 
I cannot state my return from my capital embarked at 
more than twelve hundred a year. Add the yearly value 
of my life-interest — and the total reaches a present annual 
income * of fifteen hundred pounds. I have the fairest 
prospect of soon making it more. In the mean time, do 
not object to me on pecuniary grounds ? '* 

Driven back to his last entrenchment, Obenreizer l-ose, 
and took a turn backwards and forwards in the room. 
For the moment, he was plainly at a loss what to say or 

do next. 

" Before I answer that last question," he said, after a 
little close consideration with himself, " I beg leave to 
revert for a moment to Miss Marguerite. You said some- 
thing just now which seemed to imply that she returns the 
sentiment with which you are pleased to regard her ? " 

" I have the inestimable happiness," said Vendale, '* of 
knowing that she loves me." ■ 

Obenreizer stood silent for a moment, with the film 
over his eyes, and the faintly perceptible heat becoming 
visible again in his cheeks. 

" If you will excuse me for a few minutes,'' he said, 
with ceremonious politeness, ** I should like to have th« 
opportunity of speaking to my niece." With those words, 
he bowed, and quitted the room. 

Left by himself, Vendale's thoughts (as a necessary 
result of the interview, thus far) turned instinctively to the 
consideration of Obenreizer's motives. He had put obsta- 
cles in the way of the courtship ; he was now putting 
obstacles in the way* of the marriage — a marriage offering 



VENDALE MAKES LOVE. 87 

advantages which even his ingenuity could not dispute. 
On the face of it, his conduct was incomprehensible. 
What did it mean ? 

Seeking, under the .surface, for the answer to that 
question — and remembering that Obenreizer was a man 
about his own age ; also, that Marguerite was, strictly 
speaking, his half-niece only — Vendale asked himself, 
with a lover's ready jealousy, whether he had a rival to 
fear, as well as a guardian to conciliate. The thought 
just crossed his mind, and no more. The sense of Mar- 
guerite's kiss still lingering on his cheek reminded him 
gently that even the jealousy of a moment was now a 
treason to her, ' 

On reflection, it seemed most likely tha't a personal 
motive of another kind might suggest the true explanation 
of Obenreizer 's conduct. Marguerite's grace and beauty 
were precious ornaments in that little household. They 
gave it a special social attraction and a special social im- 
portance. They armed Obenreizer with a certain in- 
fluence in reserve, which he could always depend upon to 
make his house attractive, and which he might always bring 
more or less to bear on the forwarding of his own private 
ends. Was he the sort of man to resign such advantages 
as were implied, without obtaining the fullest possible 
compensation for the loss ? A connection by marriage 
with Vendale offered him solid advantages, beyond all 
doubt. But there were hundreds of men in London with 
far greater power and far wider influence than Vendale 
possessed. Was it possible that this man's ambition 
secretly looked higher than the highest prospects that 
could be offered to him by the alliance now proposed for 
his niece ? As the question passed through Vendale's 
mind, the man himself reappeared — to answer it, or not to 
answer it, as the event might prove. 

A marked change was visible in Obenreizer when he 

4* 



88 NO THOBOUGHFABE. 

resumed his place. His manner was less assured, and 
there were plain traces ^bout his mouth of recent agitation 
which had not been successfully composed. Had he said 
something, referring either to Vendale or to himself which 
had roused Marguerite's spirit, and which had placed him, 
for the first time, face to face with a resolute assertion of 
his niece's will ? It might or might not be. This only 
was certain — ^he looked like a man who had met with a 
repulse. 

" I have spoken to my niece," he began. " I find Mr. 
Vendale, that even your influence has not entirely blinded 
her to the social objections to your proposal." 

" May I ask," returned Vendale, " if that is the only re- 
sult of vour interview with Miss Obenreizer." 

A momentary flash leaped out through the Obenreizer film. 

" You are master of the situation," he answered, in a 
tone of sardonic submission. " If you insist on my 
admitting it, I do admit it in those words. My niece's will 
and mine used to be one, Mr. Vendale. You have come be- 
tween us, and her will is now yours. In my country, we 
know when we are beaten, and we submit with our best 
grace. I submit with my best grace, on certain conditions. 
Let us revert to the statement of your pecuniary position. 
I have an objection to you, my dear sir — a most amazing, a 
most audacious objection, from a man in my position to a 
man in yours." 

" Wliat is it ? " 

" You have honored me by making a proposal for my 
niece's hand. For the present (with best thanks and 
rc8i)octH), I beg to decline it." 

"Why?" 

" BerauRo you are not rich enough." 

The obj(»ction, as the speaker had foreseen, took Ven- 
dale cotnplotoly by surprise. For the monaent, he was 
speechloRH. 



VENDALE MAKES LOVE. 89 

" Your income is fifteen hundred a year," pursued Oben- 
reizer. " In my miserable country I should fall on my 
knees before your income, and say, * What a princely for- 
tune ! * In wealthy England, I sit as I am, and say, * A 
modest independence, dear sir ; nothing more/ Enough 
perhaps, for a wife in your own rank of life, who has no 
social prejudices to conquer. Not more than half enough 
for a wife who is a meanly born foreigner, and who has 
all your social prejudices against her." Sir ! if my niece 
is ever to marry you, she will have what you call up-hill 
work of it in taking her place at starting. .Yes, yes ; this 
is not your view, but it remains, immovably remains my 
view, for all that. For my niece's sake, I claim that this 
up-hill work shall be made as smooth as possible. What- 
ever material advantages she can have to help her, ought, 
in common justice, to be hers. Now, tell me, Mr. Ven- 
dale, on your fifteen hundred a year, can your wife have 
a house in a fashionable quarter, a footman to open her 
door, a butler to wait at her table, and a carriage and 
horses to drive about in ? I see the answer in your face 
— ^your face says. No. Very good. Tell me one more 
thing, and I have done- Take the mass of your educated, 
accomplished, and lovely coim try women, is it, or is it not 
the fact that a lady who has a house in a fashionable 
quarter, a footman to open her door, a butler to wait at 
her table, and a carriage and horses to drive about in, is 
a lady who has gained four steps, in female estimation at 
starting ? Yes ? or No ? " 

" Come to the point," said Vendale. " You view this 
question as a question of terms. What are your terms ? " 

" The lowest terms, dear sir, on which you can provide 
your wife with those four steps at starting. Double your 
present income — the most rigid economy cannot do it in 
England on less. You said just now that you expected 
greatly to increase the value of your business. To work 



90 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

— and increase it ! I am a good devil after all ! On the 
day when you satisfy me, by plain proofs, that your in- 
come has risen to three thousand a year, ask me for my 
niece's hand, and it is yours." 

" May I inquire if you have mentioned this arrangement 
to Miss Obenreizer ? " 

" Certainly. She has a little morsel of regard still left 
for me, Mr. Vendale, which is not yours yet ; and she 
accepts my terms. In other words, she submits to be 
guided by her guardian's regard for her welfare, and by 
her guardian's superior knowledge of the world." He 
threw himself back in his chair in firm reliance on his 
position and in full possession of his excellenftemper. 

Any open assertion of his own interests, in the situation 
in which Vendale was now placed, seemed to be (for the 
present at least) hopeless. He found himself literally 
left with no ground to stand on. Whether Obenreizer's 
objections were the genuine product of Obenreizer's own 
view of the case, or whether he was simply delaying the 
marriage in the hope of ultimately breaking it off alto- 
gether — in neither of these events any present resistance 
on Vendale's part would be equally useless. There was 
no help for it but to yield, makhig the best terms that he 
could on his own side. 

" I protest against the conditions you impose on me," 
he began. 

" Naturally," said Obenreizer ; " I dare say I should 
protest, myself, in your place." 

" Say, however," pursued Vendale, *' that I accept your 
terms. In that case, I must be permitted to make two 
stipulations on my part. In the first place, I shall expect 
to be allowed to see your niece." 

" Aha ! to see my niece ? and to make her in as great a 
hurry to be married as you are yourself ! Suppose I say, 
No ? you would see her perhaps without my permission ! " 



VENDALE MAKES LOVE. 91 

« Decidedly !" 

" How delightfully frank ! . How exquisitely English ! 
You shall see her, Mr. Vendale. on certain days, which 
we will appoint together. What next ? " 

" Your objection to my income, " proceeded Vendale, 
" has taken me completely by surprise. I wish to be assured 
against any repetition of that surprise. Your present 
views of my qualification for marriage require me to have 
an income of three thousand a year. Can 'I be certain 
in the future as your experience of England enlarges, that 
your estimate will rise no higher ? " 

"In plain English," said Obenreizer, "you doubt my 
word ? " 

" Do you propose to take my word for it when I inform 
you that I have doubled my income ? " asked Vendale. 
" If my memory does not deceive me, you stipulated, a 
minute since, for plain proofs ? " 

" Well played, Mr. Vendale ! You combine the for- 
eign quickness with the English solidity. Accept my 
best congratulations. Accept, also, my written guarantee. " 

He rose ; seated himself at a writing-desk at a side-table 
wrote a few lines, and presented them to Vendale with a 
low bow. The engagement was perfectly explicit, and 
was signed and dated with scrupulous care. 

** Are you satisfied with your guarantee ? " 

"I am .satisfied." 

" Charmed to hear it, I am sure. We have had our 
little skirmish — we have really been wonderfully clever 
on both sides. For the present our affairs are settled. 
I bear no malice. You bear no malice. Come, Mr. 
Vendale, a good English shake hands." 

Vendale gave his hand, a little bewildered by Oben- 
reizer's sudden transitions from one humor to another. 

** When may I expect to see Miss Obenreizer again ? " 
he asked, as he rose to go. 



92 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

"Honor me with a visit to-morrow," said Obenreizer, 
" and we will settle it then. Do have a grog before you 
go ! No ? Well ! we will reserve the grog till you have 
your three thousand a year, and are ready to be married. 
Aha ! When will that be ? '' 

" I made an estimate, some months since, of the capa- 
cities of my business," said Vendale. " If that estimate 
is correct, I shall double my present income " 

" And be tkiarried ! " added Obenreizer. 

" And be married," repeated Vendale, " within a year 
from this time. Good-night." 

VENDALE MAKES MISCHIEF. 

When Vendale entered his office the next morning, the 
dull commercial routine at Cripple Corner met him with 
a new face. Marguerite had an interest in it now ! The 
whole machinery which Wilding's death had set in motion 
to realize the value of the business — the balancing of 
ledgers, the estimating of debts, the taking of stock, and 
the rest of it — ^was now transformed into machinery which 
indicated the chances for and against a speedy marriage. 
After looking over results, as presented by his accountant, 
and checking additions and subtractions as rendered by the 
clerks, Vendale turned his attention to the stock-taking 
department next, and sent a message to the cellars, 
desiring to see the report. 

The cellarman's appearance, the moment he put his 
head in at the door of his master's private room, suggested 
that something very extraordinary must have happened 
that morning. There was an approach to alacrity in 
Joey Ladle's movements ! There was something which 
actually simulated cheerfulness in Joey Ladle's face ! 

" What's the matter ? ** asked Vendale. " Anything 
wrong ? " 



TENDALE HAKES MISCHIEF. 93 

"I should wbh to mention one thing," answered Joey. 
" Young Mr. Vendale, I have never set myself up for a 
prophet." 

** Who ever said you did ? " 

* No prophet, as far as I've heard tell of that profes- 
sion," proceeded Joey, " ever lived principally underground. 
No prophet, whatever else he might take in at the pores, 
ever took in wine from morning to night, for a number 
of years together. When I said to young Master Wild- 
ing, respecting his changing the name of the firm that 
one of these days he might find he'd changed the luck of 
the firm — did I put myseK forward as a prophet ? No, I 
didn't. Has what I said to him come true ? Yes, it has. 
In the time of Pebbleson Nephew, Young Mr. Vendale, 
no such thing was ever known as a mistake made in a 
consignment delivered at these doors. There's a mistake 
been made now. Please to remark that it happened be- 
fore Miss Margaret came here. For which reason it don't 
go against what I've said respecting IVIiss IMargaret sing- 
ing round the luck. Head that, sir," concluded Joey, point- 
ing attention to a special passage in the report, with a 
forefinger which appeared to be in process of taking in 
through the pores nothing more remarkable then dirt. "It's 
foreign to my nature to crow over the house I serve, but 
I feel it a kind of a solemn duty to ask you to read that." 

Vendale read as follows: — " Note, respecting the Swiss 
champagne. An irregularity has been discovered in the 
last consignment received from the firm of Defresnier and 
Co." Vendale stopped, and referred to a memorandum- 
book by his side. " That was in Mr. Wilding's time," 
he said. " The vintage was a particularly good one, and 
he took the whole of it. The Swiss champagne has done 
very well, hasn't it ? " 

" I don't say it's done badly," answered the Cellarman. 
" It may have got sick in our customers' bins, or it may 



94 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

have bust in our customers' hands. But I don't say it's 
done badly with t/s.** 

Vendale resumed the reading of the note : "We find the 
number of the cases to be quite correct by the books. But 
six of them, which present a slight difference from the 
rest in the brand, have been opened, and have been found 
to contain a red wine instead of champagne. The similar- 
ity in the brands, we suppose, caused a mistake to be 
made in sending the consignment from Neuchatel. The 
error has not been found to extend beyond six cases." 

" Is that all ! " exclaimed Vendale, tossing the note 
away from him. 

Joey Ladle's eye followed the flying morsel of paper 
drearily. 

" I'm glad to see you take it easy, sir," he said* - "What- 
ever happens, it will be always a comfort to you to re- 
member that you took it easy at first. Sometimes one 
mistake leads to another. A man drops a bit of orange- 
peel on the pavement by mistake, and another man treads 
on it by mistake, and there's a job at the hospital, and a 
party crippled for life. I'm glad you take it easy, sir. 
In Pebbleson Nephew's time we shouldn't have taken 
it easy till we had seen the end of it. Without desiring 
to crow over the house. Young Mr. Vendale, I wish you 
well through it. No offence, sir," said the Cellarman, 
opening the door to go out and looking in again ominous- 
ly before he shut it. " I'm muddled and molloncolly, I 
grant you. But I'm an old servant of Pebbleson Nephew, 
and I wish you well through them six cases of red wine." 

Left by himself Vendale laughed, and took up his 
pen. " I may as well send a line to Defresnier and Com- 
pany," he thought, " before I forget it." He wrote in 
these terms ; 

" Dear Sirs, — We are taking stock, and a trifling mis- 
take has been discovered in the last consignment of cham- 



VENDALE MAKES MISCHIEF. 95 

pagne sent by your house to ours. Six of the cases 
contain red wine — which we hereby return to you. The 
matter can easily be set right, either by your sending us 
six cases of the champagne, if they can be produced, or, 
if not, by your crediting us with the vahie of six cases 
on the amount last paid (five hundred pounds) by our 
firm to yours. Your faithful servants, 

" Wilding and Co." 

This letter despatched to the post, the subject dropped 
at once out of Vendale's mind. He had other and far 
more, interesting matters to think of. Later in the day 
he paid the visit to Obenreizer which had been agreed 
on between them. Certain evenings in the week were set 
apart which he was privileged to spend with Marguerite — 
always, however, in thepresence of a third person. On this 
stipulation, Obenreizer politely Jbut positively insisted. 
The one concession he made was to give Vendale his choice 
of who the third person should be. Confiding in past ex- 
perience, his choice fell unhesitatingly upon the excellent 
woman who mended Obenreizer's stockings. On hearing 
of the responsiblity entrusted to her, Madame Dor's in- 
tellectual nature burst suddenly into a new stage of 
development- She waited till Obenreizer's eye was off 
her — and then she looked at Vendale, and dimly winked. 

The time passed — the happy evenings with Marguerite 
came and went. It was the tenth morning since Ven- 
dale had written to the Swiss firm, when the answer 
appeared on his desk, with the other letters of the day : 

" Dear Sirs, — We beg to offer our excuses for the little 

mistake which has happened. At the same time, we reo-ret 

to add that the statement of our error, with which you 

have favored us, has led to a very unexpected discovery. 

The affair is a most serious one for you and for us. The 

particulars are as follows : " Having no more champagne 

of the vintage last sent to you, we made arrangements 

5 



96 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

to credit your firm with the value of the six cases, as 
suggested by yourselves. On taking this step, certain 
forms observed in our mode of doing business necessita- 
ted a reference to our banker's book, as well as to our 
ledger. The result is a moral certainty that no such 
remittance as you mention can have reached our house, 
and a literal certainty that no such remittance has been 
paid to our account at the bank. 

" It is needless, at this stage of the proceedings, to 
troublie you with the details. The money has unquestion- 
ably been stolen in the course of its transit from you 
to us. Certain peculiarities which we observe, relating 
to the manner in which the fraud has been perpetrated, 
* lead us to conclude that the thief may have calculated 
on being able to pay the missing sum to our bankers, 
before an inevitable discovery followed the annual strik- 
ing of our balance. This would not have happened, in 
the usual course, for another three months. During that 
period, but for your letter, we might have remained per- 
fectly unconscious of the robbery that has been committed. 

*^ We mention this last circumstance, as it may help to 
show you that we have to do, in this case, with no ordi- 
nary thief. Thus far we have not even a suspicion of 
who that thief is. But we believe you will assist us in 
making some advance towards discovery, by examining 
the receipt (forged of course) which has no doubt pur- 
ported to come to you from our house. Be pleased to 
look, and see whether it is a receipt entirely in man- 
uscript, or whether it is a numbered and printed form 
which merely requires the filling in of the amount. The 
settlement of this apparently trivial question is, we assure 
you, a matter of vital importance. Anxiously awaiting 
your reply, we remain, with high esteem and consider- 
tion. 

" Defresnier & ClE." 



VENDALE MAKES MISCHIEF. 97 

Vendale laid the letter on his desk, and waited a mo- 
ment to steady his mind under the shock that had fallen 
on it. At the time of all others when it was most impor- 
tant to him to increase the value of his business, that busi- 
iness was threatened with a loss of ^ve hundred pounds. 
He thought of Marguerite, as he took the key from his 
pocket and opened the iron chamber in the wall in which 
the books and papers of the firm were kept. 

He was still in the chamber searching for the forged 
receipt, when he was startled by a voice close behind him. 

"^ thousand pardons,'* said the voice ; " I am afraid 
I disturbed you." 

He turned, and found himself face to face with Mar- 
guerite's guardian. 

" I have called," pursued Obenreizer, " to know if T 
can be of any use. Business of my own takes me away 
for some days to Manchester and Liverpool. Can I 
combine any business of yours with it ? I am entire- 
ly at your disposal, in the character of commercial trav- 
eller for the firm of Wilding and Co." 

" Excuse me for one moment," said Vendale ; " I will 
speak to you directly." He turned round again, and 
continued his search among the papers. " You come at a 
time when friendly offers are more than usually precious 
to me," he resumed. " I have had very bad news this 
mornins: from Neuchatel." 

" Bad news ! " exclaimed Obenreizer. " From Defresnier 
and Company?" 

" Yes. A remittance we sent to them has been stolen. 
I am threatened with a loss of five hundred pounds. What's 
that ! " 

Turning sharply, and looking into the room for the second 
time, Vendale discovered his envelope-case overthrown on 
the floor, and Obenreizer on his knees picking up the con- 
tents. 



98 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

" All my awkwardness ! " said Obenreizer. " This dread- 
ful news of yours startled me ; I stepped' back " He 

became too deeply interested in collecting the scattered en- 
velopes to finish the sentence. 

'^ Don't trouble yourself, " said Vendale. " The clerk 
will pick the things up." 

" This dreadful news ! " repeated Obenreizer, persisting 
in collecting the envelopes. " This dreadful news !" 

" If you will read the letter," said Vendale, " you will 
find I have exaggerated nothing. There it is, open on my 
desk." 

He resumed his search, and in a moment more dis- 
covered the forged receipt. It was on the numbered and 
printed form, described by the Swiss firm. Vendale made 
a memorandum of the number and the date. Having re- 
placed the receipt and locked up the iron chamber, he had 
leisure to notice Obenreizer, reading the letter in the recess 
of a window at the far end of the room. 

" Come to the fire," said Vendale. " You look famish- 
ed with the cold out there. I will ring for some more coals." 

Obenreizer rose, and came slowly back to the desk. 
" Marguerite will be as sorry to hear of this as I am," he 
said kindly. " What do you mean to do ? " 

" I am in the hands of Defresnier and Company,** an- 
swered Vendale. " In my total ignorance of the cir- 
cumstances, I can only do what they recommended. The 
receipt which I have just found, turns out to be the num- 
bered and printed form. They seem to attach some special 
importance to its discovery. You have had experience, 
when you were in the Swiss house, of their way of doing 
business. Can you guess what object they have in view ?" 

Obenreizer offered a suggestion, 

" Suppose I examine the receipt ? " he said. 

" Are you ill ? " asked Vendale, startled by the change 
in his face, which, now showed itself plainly for the first 



7 



YENDALE MAKES MISCHIEF. 99 

time. " Pray go to the fire. You seem to be shivering 
—•I hope you are not going to be ill ? " 

" Not I ! " said Obenreizer. " Perhaps I have caught 
cold. Your English climate might have spared an ad- 
mirer of your English institutions. Let me look at the 
receipt. " 

Vendale opened the iron chamber. Obenreizer took 
a chair, and drew it close to the fire. He held both 
hands over the flames. " Let me look at the receipt," 
he repeated eagerly, as Vendale reappeared with the paper 
in his hand. At the same moment a porter entered the 
room with a fresh supply of coals. Vendale told him 
to make a good fire. The man obeyed the order with 
a disastrous alacrity. As he stepped forward and raised 
the scuttle, his foot caught in a fold of the rug, and he dis- 
charged his entire cargo of coals into the. grate. The re- 
sult was an instant smothering of the flame, and the pro- 
duction of a stream of yellow smoke, without a visible 
morsel of fire to account for it. " Imbecile ! " whispered 
Obenreizer to himself, with a look at the man which the 
man remembered for many a long day afterwards. 

" Will you come into the clerk's room ? " asked Ven- 
dale. " They have a stove there. " 

" No, no. No matter. " 

Vendale handed him the receipt. Obeureizer's interest 
in examining it appeared to have been quenched as sudden-, 
ly and as elfectually as the fire itself. He just glanced over 
the document, and said, " No ; I don't understand it ! 1 am 
sorry to be of no use. " 

" I will write to Neuchatel by to-night's post, " said 
Vendale, putting away the receipt for the second time. 
" We must wait and see what comes of it. " 

" By to-night's post, " repeated Obenreizer. " Let me 
see. You will get the answer in eight or nine days' time. 
I shall be back before that. If I can be of any service, 



100 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

as commercial traveller, perhaps you will let me know be- 
tween this and then. You will send me written instruc- 
tions ? My best thanks. I shall be most anxious for your 
answer from Neuchatel. Who knows ? It may be a mis- 
take, my dear friend, after all. Courage ! courage ! cour- 
age ! " He had entered the room with no appearance of 
being pressed for time. He now snatched up his hat, and 
took his leave with the air of a man who had not another 
moment to lose. 

Left to himself, Vendale took a turn thoughtfully 
in the room. 

His previous impression of Obenreizer was shaken by 
what he had heard and seen at the interview which had 
just taken place. He was disposed, for the first time, to 
doubt whether, in this case, he had not been a little hasty 
and hard in his judgment on another man. Obenreizer's 
surprise and regret, on hearing the news from Neuchatel, 
bore the plainest marks of being honestly felt — ^not po- 
litely assumed ior the occasion. 

With troubles of his own to encounter, suffering, 
to all appearance, from the first insidious attack of a 
serious illness, he had looked and spoken like a man 
who really deplored the disaster that had fallen on 
his friend. Hitherto Vendale had tried vainly to al- 
ter his first * opinion of Marguerite's guardian, for 
Marguerite's sake. All the generous instincts of his 
nature now combined together and shook the evidence 
which had seemed unanswerable up to this time. 
" Who knows ? " he thought, " I may have read that 
man's face wrongly, after all." 

The time passed — the happy evenings with Mar- 
guerite came and went. It was again the tenth morn- 
ing since Vendale had written to the Swiss firm; and 
again the answer appeared on his desk with the other 
letters of the day: 



TEND ALE 3fAKhS MISCHIEF. 101 

"Dear Sir, — My senior partner, M. Defrosiiier, has 
been called away, by urgent business, to ]Milan. In 
his absence (and with his full concurrence and autliority), 
I now write to you again on the subject of the miss- 
ing five hundred pounds. 

"Your discovery that the forged receipt is executed 
upon one of our numbered and printed farms hfis caused 
inexpressible suriDrise and distress to my partner and to 
myself. At the time when your remittance was stohin, 
but three keys were in existence opening the strong box 
in which our receipt forms are invariably kept. JNly 
partner had one key ; I had the other. Tlie third was in 
the possession of a gentleman wlio, at that period, occu- 
pied a position of trust in our house. We shouhl as soon 
have thought of suspecting one of ourselves as of suspect- 
ing this person. Suspicion now points at him, neverthe- 
less. I cannot prevail on myself to inform you who tlie 
person is, so long as there ie the shadow of a chance that 
he may come innocently out of the in(piiry wldch must 
now be instituted. Forgive my silence ; the motive of it 
is good. 

" The form our investigation must now tak(} is simple 
enough. The handwriting on your n^ceipt must be com- 
pared, by competent persons whom we have at our dis- 
posal, with certain si)ecimons of liand writing in our pos- 
session. I cannot send you the s]>(^ciuH?ns, for business 
reasons, which, when you hear tlieni, you are sure to 
approve. I must beg you to scmkI me the receipt to 
Neuchatel — , in making this request, I must accompany it 
by a word of necessary warning. 

"If the person at wliom suspicion now pohits, really 
proves to be the person who has conunittcd this forgery 
and theft, I have reason to fear that circumstances may 
have already put him on his guard. The only evidence 
against him is the evidence in your liands, and he will 



102 NO THQROUGHPARE. 

• 

move heaven and earth to obtain and destroy it. I 
strongly urge you not to trust the receipt to the post. 
Send it to me, without loss of time, by a private hand, 
and choose nobody for your messenger but a person long 
established in your own employment, accustomed to 
travelling, capable of speaking French ; a man of courage, 
a man of honesty, and, above all things, a man who can 
be trusted to let no stranger scrape acquaintance with 
him on the route. Tell no one — absolutely no one — ^but 
your messenger, of the turn this matter has now taken. 
The safe transit of the receipt may depend en your 
interpreting literally the advice which I give you at the 
end of this letter. 

" I have only to add that every possible saving of time 
is now of the last importance. More than one of our 
receipt-forms is missing — and it is impossible to say what 
new frauds may not be committed, if we fail to lay our 
hands on the thief. 

" Your faithful servant, 

" Holland, 
" (Signing for Defresnier and Cie)." 

Who was the suspected man ? In Vendale's position, 
it seemed useless to inquire. 

Who was to be sent to Neuchatel with the receipt ? 
Men of courage and men of honesty were to be had at 
Cripple Corner for the asking. But where was the man 
who was accustomed to foreign travelling, who could 
speak the French language, and who could be really 
relied on to let no stranger scrape acquaintance with him 
on his route? There was but one man at hand who 
combined all those i;equisites in his own person, and that 
man was Vendale himself- 

It was a sacrifice to leave his business ; it was a greater 
sacrifice to leave Marguerite. But a matter of five hun- 



YENDALE MAKES MISCHIEF. 103 

dred pounds was involved in the pending inquiry ; and a 
literal interpretation of M. Holland's advice was insisted 
on in terms which there was no trifling with. Ihe more 
Vendale thought of it, the more plainly the necessity faced 
him, and said, '' Go ! " 

As he locked up the letter with the receipt, the associa- 
tion of ideas reminded him of Obenreizer. A guess at 
the identity of the suspected man looked more possible 
now. Obenreizer might know. 

The thought had barely passed througli his mind, when 
the door opened, and Obenreizer entered the room. 

" They told me at Soho-square you were expected back 
last night," said Vendale, greeting him. " Have you 
done well in the country ? Are you better ? " 

" A thousand thanks. Obenreizer had done admirably 
well ; Obenreizer was infinitely better. And now, what 
news ? Any letter from Neuchatel ? " 

"A very strange letter," answered Vendale. "The 
matter has taken a new turn, and the letter insists — ^with- 
out excepting anybody — on my keeping our next proceed- 
ings a profound secret." 

** Without excepting anybody?" repeated Obenreizer. 
As he said the words, he walked away again, thoughtfully, 
to the window at the other end of the room, looked out 
for a moment, and suddenly came back to Vendale. 
"Surely they must have forgotten?" he resumed, "or 
they would have excepted 7ne ? " 

" It is Monsieur Holland who writes," said Vendale. 
"And as you say, he must certainly have forgotten. 
That view of the matter quite escaped me. I was just 
wishing I had you to consult when you came into the 
room. And here I am tied by a formal prohibition, which 
cannot possibly have been intended to include you. How 
very annoying ! " 

Obenreizer's filmy eyes fixed on Vendale attentively. 



104 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

"Perhaps it is more than annoying!" he said. "I 
came this morning not only to hear the news, but to offer 
myself as messenger, negotiator — what you will. Would 
you believe it ? I have letters which oblige me to go to 
Switzerland immediately. Messages, documents, any- 
thing — I could have taken them all to Defresnier and 
Holland for you." 

" You are the very man I wanted," returned Vendale. 
" I had decided, most unwillingly, on going to Neuchitel 
myself not five minutes since, because I could find no one 
here capable of taking my place. Let me look at the 
letter again." 

He opened the strong room to get at the letter. Oben- 
reizer, after first glancing round him to make sure that 
they were alone, followed a step or two and waited, 
measuring Vendale with his eye. Vendale was the tall- 
est man, and unmistakably the strongest man also of the 
two. Obenreizer turned away, and warmed himself at 
the fire. 

Meanwhile, Vendale read the last paragraph in the 
letter for the third time. There was the plain warning — 
there was the closing sentence, which insisted on a literal 
interpretation of it. The hand, which was leflding Ven- 
dale in the dark, led him on that condition only. A 
large sum was at stake : a terrible suspicion remained to 
be verified. If he acted on his own responsibility, and if 
anything happened to defeat the object in view, who 
would be blamed ? As a man of business, Vendale had 
but one course to follow. He locked the letter up 
again. 

" It is most annoying," he said to Obenreizer — " it is a 
piece of forgetfulness on Monsieur Rolland's part which 
puts me to serious inconvenience, and places me in an 
absurdly false position towards you. AVhat am I to do ? 
I am acting in a very serious matter, and acting entirely 



TEND ALE MAKES MISCHIEF. 105 

in the dark. I have no choice but to be guided, not by 
the spirit, but by the letter of my instructions. You under- 
stand me, I am sure ? You know, if I had not been fet- 
tered in this way, how gladly I should have accepted 
your services ? " 

" Say no more ! " returned Obenreizer. " In your place 
I shoidd have done the same. My good friend, I take no 
ofEence. I thank you for your compliment. We shall 
be travelling companions, at any rate," added Obenreizer. 
** You go, as I go, at once ? " 

**At once. I must speak to Marguerite first of 
course ! *' 

" Surely ! Surely ! Speak to her this evening. Come, 
and pick me up on the way to the station. We go to- 
gether by the mail train to-night ? " 

It was later than Vendale had anticipated when he 
drove up to the house in Soho-square. Business difficul- 
ties, occasioned by sudden departure, had presented them- 
selves by dozens. A cruelly large share of the time 
which he had hoped to devote to Marguerite had been 
claimed by duties at his office which it was impossible to 
neglect. 

To his surprise and delight, she was alone in the draw- 
ing-room when he entered it. 

" We have only a few minutes, George," she said. 
" But Madame Dor has been good to mo — and we can 
have those few minutes alone." She threw her arms 
round his neck, and whispered eagerly, " Have you done 
anything to offend Mr. Obenreizer? " 

" I !• " exclaimed Vendale, in amazement. 

" Hush ! " she said, " I want to whisper it. You 
know the little photograph I have got of you. This af- 
ternoon it happened to be on the chimney-piece. He took 
it up and looked at it — and I saw his face in the glass. I 
know you have offended him ! He is merciless ; he is 



106 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

revengeful ; he is as secret as the grave. Don't go with 
him, George — don't go with him !" 

" My own love," returned Vendale, " you are letting 
your fancy frighten you ! Obenreizer and I were never 
better friends than we are at this moment." 

Before a word more could be said, the sudden move- 
ment of some ponderous body shook the floor of the next 
room. The shock was followed by the appearance of 
Madame Dor. " Obenreizer ! " exclaimed this excellent 
person in a whisper, and plumped down instantly in her 
regular place by the stove. 

Obenreizer came in with a courier's bag strapped over 
his shoulder. 

" Are you ready ? " he asked addressing Vendale 
" Can I take anything for you ? You have no travelling 
bag. I have got one. Here is the compartment for 
papers, open at your service." 

" Thank you," said Vendale. " I have only one paper 
of importance with me ; and that paper I am bound to 
take charge of myself. Here it is," he added, touching 
the breast-pocket of his coat, " and here it must remain 
till we get to Neuchatel." 

As he said those words Marguerite's hand caught his, 
and pressed it significantly. She was looking towards 
Obenreizer. Before Vendale could look, in his turn, 
Obenreizer had wheeled round, and was taking leave of 
Madame Dor. 

^' Adieu, my charming niece I " he said, turning to Mar- 
guerite next. " En route, my friend, for Neuchatel ! " 
He tapped Vendale lightly over the breast-pocket of his 
coat, and led the way to .the door. 

Vendale's last look was for Marguerite. Marguerite's 
last words to him were, " Don't go." 



IN THB YALLBY. 107 



ACT in. 



IN THE VALLEY. 



IT was about the middle of the month of February 
when Vendale and Obenreizer set forth on their exped- 
ition. The winter being a hard one, the time was bad 
for travellers. So bad was it that these two travellers, 
coming to Strasbourg, found its great inns almost 
empty. And even the few people they did encounter in 
that city, who had started from England or from Paris on 
business journeys towai;ds the interior of Switzerland 
were turning back. 

Many of the railroads in Switzerland that tourists pass 
easily enough now, were almost or quite impracticable then. 
Some were not begun ; more were not completed. On 
such as were open, there were still largo gaps of old road 
where communication in the winter season was often 
stopped ; on others, there were weak points where the 
new work was not safe, either under conditions of severe 
frost, or of rapid thaw. The running of trains on this 
last class was not to be counted on the worst time of the 
year, was contingent upon weather, or was wholly ab- 
andoned through the months considered the most dan- 
gerous. 

At Strasbourg, there were more traveller's stoties afloat 



\ 



108 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

respecting the difficulties of the way further on, than 
there were travellers to relate them. Many of these tales 
were as wild as usual ; but the more modestly marvellous 
did derive some color from the circumstance that people 
were indisputably turning back. However, as the road 
to Basle was open, Vendale's resolution to push on was 
in no wise disturbed. Obenreizer's resolution was ne- 
cessarily Vendale's, seeing that he stood at bay thus des- 
perately : — He must be ruined, or must destroy the evi- 
dence that Vendale carried about him even if he destroy- 
ed Vendale with it. ' 

The state of mind of each of these two fellow-travellers 
towards the other was this. Obenreizer, encircled by 
impending tmn through Vendale's quickness of action, 
and seeing the circle narrowed every hour by Vendale's 
energy, hated him with the animosity of a fierce cunning 
lower animal. He had always had instinctive movements 
in his breast against him ; perhaps, because of that old 
sore of gentleman and peasant ; perhaps, because of the 
openness of his nature ; perhaps because of his better 
looks ; perhaps, because of his success with Marguerite ; 
perhaps, on all those grounds, the two last not the least. 
And now he saw in him, besides, the hunter who was 
tracking him down. Vendale, on the other hand, always 
contending generously against his first vague mistrust, 
now felt bound to contend against it more than ever : 
reminding himself, " He is Marguerite's guardian. We 
are on perfectly friendly terms ; he is my companion of 
his own proposal, and can have no interested motive in 
sharing this undesirable journey." To which plea in 
behalf of Obenreizer, chance added one consideration 
more, when they came to Basle after a journey of more 
than twice the average juration. 

They had had a late dinner, and were alone in an inn 
room there, overhanging the Rhine ; at that pliice rapid 



IN THE VALLEY. 109 

and deep, swollen and loud. Vendale lounged upon a 
couch, and Obenreizer walked to and fro : now, stopping 
at the window, looking at the crooked reflections of the 
town lights in the dark water (and peradventure thinking, 
** If I could fling him into it ! ") ; now, resuming his 
walk with his eyes upon the floor. 

" Where shall I rob him, if I can ? AVliere shall I 
mopder him, if 1 must ? " So, as he paced the room, ran 
. the river, ran the river, ran the river. 

The burden seemed to him at last, to be gi-owing so 
plain that he stopped ; thinking it as well to suggest another 
bnrden to his companion. 

" The Rhine sounds to-night," he said with a smile, 
'** like the old waterfall at home. That waterfall which 
my mother showed to travellers (T told you of it once). 
The sound of it changed with the weather, as does the 
sound of all falling waters and flowing waters. When I 
was pupil of the watchmaker, I remembered it as some- 
times saying to me for whole days, * Who are you, my 
little wretch ? Who are you, my little wretch ? * I 
remembered it as saying, other times, when its sound was 
hollow, and storm was coming up the Pass : * Boom, boom, 
boom. Beat him, beat him, beat him.' Like my mother 
enraged — if she was my mother." 

" If she was ? " said Vendale, gradually changing his 
attitude to a sitting one. " If she was ? Why do you 
say 'if? 

" What do I know ? " replied the other negligently, 
throwing up his hands and letting them fall as they would. 
"What would you have? I am so obscurely born, that 
how can I say ? I was very young, and all the rest of 
the family were men and women, and my so-called parents 
were old. Anything is possible of a case like that ? " 

" Did you ever doubt — ? " 

** I told you once, I doubt the marriage of those two," 



110 NO THOROUGHFARE, 

he replied, throwing up his hands again, as if he were 
throwing the unprofitable subject away. " But here I 
am in Creation, /come of no fine family. .What does it 
matter ? " 

" At least you are Swiss," said Vendale, after following 
him with his eyes to and fro. 

" How do I know ? " he retorted abruptly, and stop- 
ping to look back over his shoulder, " I say to you, at 
least you are English.' How do you know ? " 

" By what I have been told from infancy." 

" Ah ! I know of myself that way." 

" And," added Vendale, pursuing the thought that he 
could not drive back, " by my earliest recollections." 

" I also. I know of myseK that way — if that way 
satisfies." 

" Does it not satisfy you ? " 

" It must. There is nothing like * it must' in this 
little world. It must. Two short words those, but 
stronger than long proof or reasoning*" 

" You and poor Wilding were born in the same year. 
You were nearly of an age," said Vendale, again thought- 
fully looking after him as he resumed his pacing up and 
down. 

"Yes. Very nearly." 

Could Obenreizer be the missing man ? In the unknown 
associations of things, was there a subtler meaning than 
he himself thought, in that theory so often on his lips 
about the smallness of the world ? Had the Swiss letter 
presenting him, followed so close on Mrs. Goldstraw's 
revelation concerning the infant who had been taken 
away to Switzerland, because he was that infant grown a 
man ? In a world where so many depths lie unsounded, 
it might be. The chances, or the laws — call them either 
— that had wrought out the revival of Vendale's own 
acquaintance with Obenreizer, and had ripened it into 






IN THE VALLEY. Ill 

intimacj, and had brought them here together this present 
winter night, were hai'dly less curious ; while read by 
Btich a light, they were seen to cohere towards the further- 
ance of a continuous and an iutelligible purpose. 

Vendale's awakened thoughts ran high while his eyes 
mnsingly followed Obenreizer pacing up and down the 
room, the river ever running to the tune : *' Where shall 
I rob him, if I can ? AVhere shall I nmrder him, if I 
must ? " The secret of his dead friend was in no hazard 
from Vendale's lips ; but just as his friend had died of 
its weight, so did he in his lighter succession feel the 
burden of the trust, and the obligation to follow any clue, 
however obscure. He rapidly asked himself, would he 
like this man to be the real Wilding ? No. Argue down 
his mistrust as he might, he was unwilling to put such a 
substitute in the place of his late guileless, outspoken, 
childlike partner. He rapidly asked himself, would he 
like this msm to be rich ? No. He had more power than 
enough over Marguerite as it was, and wealth might 
invest him with more. Would he like this man to be 
Marguerite's Guardian, and yet proved to stand in no 
degree of Relationship towards her, however disconnected 
and distant ? No. But these were not considerations to 
come between him and fidelity to the dead. Let him see 
to it that they passed him with no other notice than the 
knowledge that they had passed him, and left him be;it 
on th« discharge of a solemn duty. And he did see to it, 
60 soon that he followed his companion with ungrudging 
eyes, while he still paced the room ; that companion, whom 
he supposed to be moodily reflecting on his own birth, 
and not on another man's— least of all what man's — vio- 
lent Death. 

The road in advance from Basle to Neuchktel was bet- 
ter than had been represented. The latest weather had 

done it good. Drivers, both of horses and mules, had 

6* 



112 NO THOBOUGHFABE. 

come in that evening after dark, and had reported nothing 
more difficult to be overcome than trials of patience, har- 
ness, wheels, axles, and whipcord. A bargain was soon 
struck for a carriage and horses, to take them on in the 
morning, and to start before daylight. 

" Do you lock your door at night when travelling ? " 
asked Obenreizer, standing warming his hands by the 
wood fire in Vendale's chamber, before going to his own. 
" Not I. I sleep too soundly." 

" You are so sound a sleeper ? " he retorted, with an 
admiring look. " What a blessing ! " 

" Anything but a blessing to the rest of the house," 
rejoined Vendale, " if I had to be knocked up in the 
morning from the outside of my bed-room door." 

" 1, too," said Obenreizer, " leave open my room. But 
let me advise you, as a Swiss who knows : always, when 
you travel in my country, put your papers — and, of 
course, your money — under your pillow. Always the 
same place." 

" You are not complimentary to your countrymen," 
laughed Vendale. 

" My countrymen," said Obenreizer, with that light 
touch of his friend's elbows by way of Good Night and 
benediction, " I suppose, are like the majority of men. 
And the majority of men will take what they can get. 
Adieu ! At four in the morning." 
"Adieu! At four." 

Left to himself, Vendale raked the logs together, 
sprinkled over them the white wood-aslies lying on the 
hearth, and sat down to compose his thoughts. But they still 
ran high on their latest theme, and the running of the 
river tended to agitate rather than to quiet them. As he 
sat thinking, what little disposition he had had to sleep, 
departed. He felt it hopeless to lie down yet, and sat 
dressed by the fire. Marguerite, Wilding, Obenreizer, 



IN THE VALLEY. lliS 

tke business he was then upon, and a thousand hopes and 
doubts that had nothing to do with it, occupied his mind 
at once. Everything seemed to have power over him, 
but slumber. The departed disposition to sleep, kept far 
away. 

He had sat for a long time thinking, on the hearth, 
when his candle burned down, and its light went out. It 
was of little moment ; there was light enough in the fire. 
He changed his attitude, and leaning his arm on the chair- 
back, and his chin upon that hand, sat tliinking still. 

But he sat between the fire and the bed, and, as the 
fire flickered in the play of air from the fast-flowing river, 
his enlarged shadow fluttered on the white wall by the 
bedside. His attitude gave it an air, half of mourning, 
and half of bending over the bed imploring. His eyes 
were observant of it, when he became troubled by the 
disagreeable fancy that it was like Wilding's shadow, and 
not his own. 

A slight change of place would cause it to disappear. 
He made the change, and the apparition of his disturbed 
fancy vanished. He now sat in the shade of a little nook 
beside the fire, and the door of the room was before him. 

It had a long, cumbrous iron latch. He saw the latch 
slowly and softly rise. The door opened a very little, 
and came to again : as though only the air had moved it. 
But he saw that the latch was out of the hasp. 

The door opened again very slowly, until it opened 
wide enough to admit some one, it afterwards remained 
still for a while, as though cautiously held open on the 
other side. The figure of a man then entered, with 
its face turned towards the bed, and stood quiet just 
within the door. Until it said, in a low half-whisper, at 
the same time taking one step forward : " Vendale ! " 

** What now ? " he answered, springing from his seat ; 
"who is it?" 



114 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

It was Obenreizer, and he uttered a cry of surprise as 
Vendale came upon him from that unexpected direction. 
"Not in bed ? '* he said, catching him by both shoulders 
with an instinctive tendency to a struggle, " Then some- 
thing IS wrong ! " 

" What do you mean ? " said Vendale, releasing him- 
self. " First tell me ; you are not ill ? " 

•'HI? No." 

" I have had a bad dream about you. How is it that I 
see you up and dressed ? " 

" My good fellow, I may as well ask you how is it that 
I see you up and undressed.'' 

" I have told you why. I have had a bad dream about 
you. I tried to rest after, but it was impossible. I could 
not make up my mind to stay where I was, without 
knowing you were safe ; and yet I could liot make up my 
mind to come in here. I have been minutes hesitating at 
the door. It is so easy to laugh at a dream that you have 
not dreamed. Where is your candle ? " 

" Burnt out." 

" I have a whole one in my room. Shall I fetch it ? " 

<* Do so." 

His room was very near, and he was absent for but a 
few seconds. Coming back with the candle in his hand, 
he kneeled down on the hearth and lighted it. As he 
blew with his breath a charred billet into flame for the 
purpose, Vendale, looking down at him, saw that his lips 
were white and not easy of control. 

" Yes ! " said Obenreizer, setting the lighted candle on 
the table, " it was a bad dream. Only look at me ! " 

His feet were bare ; his red-flannel shirt was 
thrown back at the throat, and its sleeves were rolled 
above \he elbows ; his only other garment, a pair of 
under pantaloons or drawers, reaching to the ankles, 
£tted him close and tight. A certain lithe and savao-e 






IN THB VALLEY. Ilt5 

appearance was on his figure, and his eyes were very 
bright. 

" If there had been a wrestle with a robber, as I dream- 
ed," said Obenreizer, " you see I was stripped for it." 

"And armed, too," said Vendale, glancing at his 
girdle. 

" A traveller's dagger, that I always carry on the 
road," he answered carelessly, half drawing it from its 
sheath with his left hand, and putting it back again. '^ Do 
you carry no such thing ? 

" Nothing of the kind.' 

" No pistols ? " said Obenreizer, glancing at the table, 
and from it to the untouched pillow. 

"Nothing of the sort." 

"You Englishmen are so confident! You wish to 
sleep?" 

" I have wished to sleep this long time, but I can't do 
it." 

" I neither, after the bad dream. My fire has gone the 
way of your candle. May I come and sit by yours? Two 
o'clock ! It will so soon be four, that it is not worth the 
trouble to go to bed again." 

" I shall not take the trouble to go to bed at all, now," 
said Vendale ; " sit here and keep me company, and wel- 



come." 



Gk)ing back to his room to arrange his dress, Oben- 
reizer soon returned in a loose cloak and slippers, and they 
sat down on opposite sides of the hearth. In the interval, 
Vendale had replenished the fire from the wood-basket in 
his room, and Obenreizer had put upon the table a flask 
and cup from his. 

" Common cabaret brandy, I am afraid," he said, pour- 
ing out ; " bought upon the road, and not like yours from 
Cripple Comer. But yours is exhausted ; so much the 
worse. A cold night, a cold time of night, a cold country, 



116 MO THOROUGHFABE. 

and a cold house. This may-be better than nothing ; try 
it." 

Vendale took the cup, and did so. 

'* How do you find it ? " 

"It has a coarse after-flavor," said Vendale, giving 
back the cup with a slight shudder, " and I don't like it." 

" You are right," said Obenreizer, tasting, and smack- 
ing his lips ; " It has a coarse after flavor, and / don't 
like it. Booh ! it burns, through ! " He had flung what 
remained in the cup, upon the ^e. 

Each of them leaned an elbow on the table, reclined 
his head upon his hand, and sat looking at the flaring 
logs. Obenreizer remained watchful and still ; but Ven- 
dale, after certain nervous twitches and starts, in one of 
which he rose to his feet and looked wildly about him, 
fell into the strangest confusion of dreams. He carried 
his papers in a leather case or pocket-book, in an inner 
breast-pocket of his buttoned travelling coat ; and what- 
ever he dreamed of, in the lethargy that got possession of 
him, something importunate in these papers called him 
out of that dream, though he could not wake from it. He 
was belated on the steppes of Russia (some shadowy per- 
son gave that name to the place) with Marguerite ; and 
yet the sensation of a hand at his breast, softly feeling 
the outline of the pocket-book as he lay asleep before the 
fire, was present to him. He was shipwrecked in an open 
boat at sea, and having lost his clothes, had no other 
covering than an old sail ; and yet a creeping hand, trac- 
ing outside all the other pockets of the dress he actually 
wore, for papers, and finding none answer its touch, warn- 
ed him to rouse himself. He was in the ancient vault at 
Cripple Corner, to which was transferred the very bed 
substantial and present in that very room at Basle ; and 
Wilding (not dead, as he had supposed, and yet he did 
not wonder much) shook him, and whispered. " Look at 



IN THE VALLEY. 117 

that man ! Don't you seethe has risen, and turning the 
pillow ? Why should he turn the pillow, if not to seek 
those papers that are in your breast ? Awake ! " And 
yet he slept, and wandered off into other dreams. 

Watchful and still, with his elbow on the table and his 
head upon that hand, his companion at length said ; " Ven- 
dale ! We are called. Past Four ! " Then, opening his 
eyes, he saw, turned sideways on him, the filmy face of 
Obenreizer. 

" You have been in a heavy sleep," he said. " The 
fatigue of constant travelling and the cold ! " 

"I am broad awake now," cried Vendale, springing 
up, but with an unsteady footing. " Haven't you slept 
ataU?" 

" I may have dozed, but I seem to have been patiently 
looking at the fire. Whether or no, we must wash, and 
breakfast, and turn out. Past four, Vend&le ; past four ! " 

It was said in a tone to rouse him, for already he was 
half asleep again. In his preparation for the day, too, 
and at his breakfast, he was often virtually asleep while 
in mechanical action. It was not until the cold dark day 
was closing in, that he had any distincter impressions of 
the ride than jingling bells, bitter weather, slipping horses, 
frowning hill-sides, bleak woods, and a stoppage at some 
wayside house of entertainment, where they had passed 
through a cowhouse to reach the traveller's room above. 
He had been conscious of little more, except of Oben- 
reizer sitting thoughtful at his side all day, and eyeing him 
much. 

But when he shook off his stupor, Obenreizer was not at 
his side. The carriage was stopping to bait at another 
wayside house ; and a line of long narrow carts, laden 
with casks of wine, and drawn by horses with a quantity 
of blue collar and head-gear, were baiting too. These 
came fiom the direction in which the travellers were 



118 JJO THOROUGHFARE. 

going, and Obenreizer (not thoughtful now, but cheerful 
and alert) was talking with the foremost driver. As Ven- 
dale stretched his limbs, circulated his blood, and cleared 
off the lees of his lethargy, with a sharp run* to and fro in 
the bracing air, the line of carts moved on : the drivers 
all saluting Obenreizer as they passed him. 

" Who are those? " asked Vendale. 

*' They are our carriers — Defresnier and Company's," 
replied Obenreizer. " Those are our casks of wine." 
He was singing to himself, and lighting a cigar. 

" I have been drearily dull company to-day," said Ven- 
dale. ** I don't know what has been the matter with 
me." 

" You had no sleep last night ; and a kind of brain-con- 
gestion frequently comes, at first of such cold," said Oben- 
reizer. " I have seen it often. After all, we shall have 
our journey for nothing, it seems." 

" How for nothing ? " 

" The House is at Milan. You know, we are a Wine 
House at Neuchatel, and a Silk House at Milan ? Well, 
Silk happening to press of a sudden, more than Wine, 
Defresnier was smnmoned to Milan. RoUand, the other 
partner, has been taken ill since his departure, and the 
doctors will allow him to see no one. A letter awaits 
you at Neuchatel to tell you so. I have it from our chief 
carrier whom you saw me talking with. He was surpris- 
ed to see me, and said he had that word for you if he met 
you. What do you do ? Go back ? " 

" Go on," said Vendale, 

"On?" 

" On ? Yes. Across the Alps, and down to Milan." 

Obenreizer stopped his smoking to look at Vendale, and 
then smoked heavily, looked up the road, looked down 
the road, looked down at the stones in the road at his feet. 

" I have a very serious matter in charge," said Vendale ; 



IN THE VALLEY. 119 

" more of these missing forms may be turned to as bad 
account, or worse : T am urged to lose no time in helping 
the House to take the thief; and nothhig shall turn me back.' 

"No ? '* cried Obenreizer, taking out his cigar to smile 
and giving his hand to his fellow traveller. **Then noth- 
ing shall turn me back. Ho, driver ! Dispatch. Quick 
there ! Let us push on ! " 

They travelled through the night. There had been 
snow, and there was a partial thaw, and they mostly 
travelled at a foot-pace, and always with many stop]){iges 
to breathe the splashed and floundering horses. After 
an hour's broad daylight, they drew rein at the inn-door at 
Neuchatel, having been some eight and twenty hours in 
conquering some eighty English miles. 

When they had hurriedly refreshed and changed, they 
went together to the house of business of Defresnier and 
Company. There they found the letter which the wine- 
carrier had described, enclosing the tests and comparisons 
of hand-writing essential to the discovery of the Forger. 
Vendale's deteimination to press foiward without resting 
being already taken, the only question to delay them w\as 
by what Pass could they cross the Alps ? Respecting the 
state of the two Passes, of the St. Gotthard and the Sim- 
plon, the guides and mule-drivers differed greatly: and 
both Passes were still far enough off, to prevent the 
travellers from having the benefit of any recent experience 
of either. ]>esides which, they well knew that a fall of 
snow miffht altofrether change the described conditions m 
a single hour, even if they were correctly stated. But, 
on the whole, the Simplon ap[)earing to be the hopefuller 
route, Vendale decided to take il. Obenreizer bore little 
or no j)art in the discussion, and scarcely spoke. 

To Geneva, to Lausanne, along the level margin of the 

lake to Vevay, so into the winding valley between the 

spurs of the mountains, and into the valley of the Rhone 

G 



120 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

The sound of carriage-wheels, as they rattled on, through 
the day, through the night, became as the wheels of a 
great clock, recording the hours. No change of weather 
varied the journey, after it had hardened into a sullen 
frost. In a sombre yellow sky, they saw the Alpine 
ranges ; and they saw enough of snow on nearer and 
much lower hill-tops and hill-sides, to sully, by contrast, 
the purity of lake, torrent, and waterfall, and make the 
villages look discolored and dirty. But no snow fell, nor 
was there any snowdrift on the road. The stalking along 
the valley of more or less of white mist, changing on their 
hair and dress into icicles, was the only variety between 
them and the gloomy sky. And still by day, and still by 
night, the wheels. And still they rolled, in the hearing 
of one of them, to the burden, altered from the burden of 
the Rhine ; " The time is gone for robbing him alive, and 
I must murder him." 

They came at length, to the poor little town of Brieg, 
at the foot of the Simplon. They came there after dark, 
but yet could see how dwarfed men's works and men be- 
came with the immense mountains towering over them. 
Here they must lie for the night ; and here was warmth 
of fire, and lamp, and dinner, and wine, and after-confer- 
ence resounding, with guides and di'ivers. No human 
creature, had come across the Pass for four days. The 
snow above the snow-line was too soft for wheeled carriage, 
and not hard enough for sledge. There was snow in the 
sky. There had been snow in the sky for days past, and 
the marvel was that it had not fallen, and the certainty 
that it must fall. No vehicle could cross. The journey 
might be tried on mules, or it might be tried on foot ; but 
the best guides must be paid danger-price in either case, 
and that, too, whether they succeeded in taking the twoc 
travellers acro3S,or turned for safety and brought tluimback. 

In this discussion, Obenreizer bore no part whatever 



IN THE VALLEY. 121 

He sat silently smoking by the fire until the room was 
cleared and Vendale referred to him. 

" Bah ! I am weary of these poor devils and their 
trade," he said in reply. " Always the same story. It is 
the story of their trade to-day, as it was the story of their 
trade when I was a ragged boy. What do you and I 
want ? We want a knapsack each, and a mountain-staff 
each. We want no guide ; we should guide him ; he 
would not guide us. We leave our portmanteaus here' 
and we cross tosjether. We have been on the mountains 
together before now, and I am mountain-born, and I know 
this Pass — Pass ! — rather High Road ! — by heart. We 
will leave these poor devils in pity, to trade with others ; 
but they must not delay us to make a pretence of earning 
money, which is all they mean." 

Vendale, glad to be quit of the dispute, and to cut the 
knot; active, adventurous, bent on getting forward, and 
therefore very susceptible to the last hint ; readily assented. 
Within two hours, they had purchased what they wanted 
for the expedition, had packed their knapsacks, and lay 
down to sleep. 

At break of day, they found half of the town collected 
in the narrow street to *see them depart. The people talk- 
ed together in groups ; the guides and drivers whispered 
apart, and looked up at the sky ; no one wished them a 
good journey. 

As they began the ascent a gleam of sun shone from the 
otherwise unaltered sky, and for a moment turned the tin 
spires of the town to silver. 

" A good omen ! " said Vendale (though it died out 
while he spoke). " Perhaps our example will open the 

Pass on tills side." 

■ " No ; we shall not be followed," returned Obenreizer, 
looking up at the sky, and back at the valley. " We shall 
be alone up yonder." 



122 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

ON THE MOUNTAIN. 

The road was fair enough for stout walkers and the air 
grew lighter and easier to breathe as the two ascended, 
But the settled gloom remained as it had remained for 
days back. Nature seemed to have come to a pause. 
The sense of hearing no less than the sense of sight, was 
troubled by having to wait so long for the change, what- 
ever it might be, that impended. The silence was as 
palpable and heavy as the lowering clouds — or rather 
cloud, for there seemed to be but one in all the sky, and 
that one covering the whole of it. 

Although the light was thus dismally shrouded, the pros- 
pect was not obscured. Down in the valley of the 
Rhone behind them, the stream could be traced through 
all its many windings, oppressively sombre and solemn in 
its one leaden hue, a colorless waste. Far and high 
above them, glaciers and suspended avalanches overhung 
the spots where they must pass by-and-by ; deep and dark 
below them on their right, were awful precipice and roar- 
ing torrent; tremendous mountains arose in every vista. 
The gigantic landscape, uncheered by a touch of changing 
light or a solitary ray of sun, was yet terribly distinct in 
its ferocity. Tlie hearts of two lonely men might shrink 
a little, if they had to win their way for miles and hours 
among a legion of silent and motionless men — mere men 
like themselves — all looking at them with fixed and froAvn- 
ing front. But how much more, when the legion is of 
Nature's mightiest works, and the frown may turn to fury 
in an instant. 

As they ascended, the road became gradually more rug- 
ged and difficult. But the spirits of Vendale rose as they 
mounted higlier, leaving so much more of the road behind 
them con(j[uered. Obenreizer spoke little, and held on 
with a determined purpose. Both, in respect of agility 



ON THE MOUNTAIN. 123 

and endurance, were well qualified for the expedition. 
Whatever the born mountaineer read in the weather- 
tokens, that was illegible to the other, he kept to himself. 

" Shall we get across to-day ? " asked Vendale. 

"No," replied the other. " You see how much deeper 
the snow lies here than it lay. half a league lower. The 
higher we mount, the deeper the snow will lie. Walking 
is half wading even now. And the days are so short ! If 
we get as high as the fifth Refuge, and lie to-night at 
the Hospice, we shall do well." 

" Is there no danger of the weather rising in the night," 
asked Yendale anxiously, *'aud snowing us up?'' 

" There is danger enough about us,'' said Obenreizer, 
with a cautious glance onward and upward, " to render 
silence our best policy. You have heard of the Bridge 
of the Ganther ? " 

" I have crossed it once." 

" In the summer ? " 

" Yes ; m the travelling season," 

" Yes ; but it is another thing at this season ; " with a 
sneer, as though he were out of temper. This is not a 
time of year, or a state of things, on an Alpine Pass, that 
you gentlemen holiday-travellers know much about." 

" You are my Guide," said Vendale, good humoredly. 
" I trust to you." 

" I am your Guide," said Obenreizer, " and I will guide 
you to your journey's end. There is the Bridge before 



us." 



They had made a turn into a desolate and dismal ravine, 
where the snow lay deep below them, deep above them, 
deep on every side. While speaking, Obenreizer stood 
pointing at the Bridge, and observing Vendale's face, with 
a very singular expression on his own. 

" If I as Guide, had sent you over there in advance, 
and encouraged you to give a shout or two, you might 



124 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

have brought down upon yourself tons and tons of snow, 
that would not only have struck you dead, but buried you 
deep, at a blow." 

** No doubt,'' said Vendale. 

" No doubt. But that is not what I have to do, as 
Guide. So pass silently. Or, going as we go, our indis- 
cretion might else crush and bury me. Let us get on ! " 

There was a great accumulation of snow on the Bridge ; 
and such enormous accumulations of snow overhung them 
from projecting masses of rock, that they might have been 
making their way through a stormy sky of white clouds. 
Using his staif skilfully, sounding as he went, and looking 
upward, with bent shoulders, as it were to resist the mere 
idea of a fall from above, Obenreizer softly led. Vendale 
closely followed. They were yet in the midst of their 
dangerous way, when there came a mighty rush, followed 
by a sound as of thunder. Obenreizer clapped his hand 
on Vendale's mouth and pointed to the track behind them. 
Its aspect had been wholly changed in a moment. An 
avalanche had swept over it, and plunged into the torrent 
at the bottom of the gulf below. 

Their appearance at the solitary Inn not far beyond this 
terrible Bridge, elicited many expressions of astonishment 
from the pieople shut up in the house. " We stay but to 
rest," said Obenreizer, shaking the snow from his dress at 
the fire. " This gentleman has very pressing occasion to 
get across ; — tell them, Vendale." 

" Assuredly, I have very pressing occasion. I "must 



cross." 



" You hear, all of you. My friend has very pressing 
occasion to get across, and we want no advice and no help. 
I am as good a guide, my fellow-countrymen, as any of 
you. Now, give us to eat and drink." 

In exactly the same way, and in nearly the same words, 
when it was coming on dark and they had struggled 



ON THE MOUNTAIN. 125 

through the greatly increased difficulties of the road, and 
had at last reached their destination for the night, Oben- 
reizer said to the astonished people of the Hospice, gather- 
ing about them at the fire, while they were yet in the act 
of getting their wet shoes oif, and shaking the snow from 
their clothes : 

" It is well to understand one another, friends all. This 
gentleman '* 

— " Has " said Vendale, readily taking him up with a 
smile '' very pressing occasion to get across. Must cross." 

" You hear ? — has very pressing occasion to get across, 
must cross. TVe want no advice and no help. I am 
mountain-born, and act as Guide. Do not worry us by 
talking about it, but let us have supper, and wine, and 
bed." 

All through the intense cold of the night, the same 
awful stillness. Again at sunrise, no sunny tinge to gild 
or redden the snow. The same interminable waste of 
deathly white ; the same immovable air ; the same mon- 
otonous gloom in the sky. 

" Travellers ! " a friendly voice called to them from the 
door, after they were afoot, knapsack on back and staff 
in hand, as yesterday : " recollect ! There are five places 
of shelter, near together, on the dangerous road before 
you ; and there is the wooden cross, and there is -the next 
Hospice. Do not stray from the track. If the Tourmente 
comes on, take shelter instantly ! " 

" The trade of these poor devils ! " said Obenreizer to 
his friend, with a contemptuous backward wave of his 
hand towards the voice. " How they stick to their trade ! 
You Englishmen say we Swiss are mercenary. Truly, it 
does look like it." 

They had divided between the two knapsacks, such re- 
freshments as they had been able to obtain that morning 
and as they deemed it prudent to take. Obenreizer carri- 



126 NO THOROUGHPARE. 

ed the wine as his share of the burden ; Vendale, the 
» bread and meat and cheese, and tlie flask of brandy. 

They had for some time labored upward and onward 
through the snow — which was now above their knees in 
the track, and of unknown depth elsewhere — and they 
were still laboring upward and onward through the most 
frightful part of that tremendous desolation, when snow 
began to fall. At first, but a few flakes descended slowly 
and steadily. After a little while the fall grew much 
denser, and, suddenly, it began without apparent cause to 
whirl itself into spiral shapes. Instantly, ensuing upon 
this last change, an icy blast came roaring at them, and 
every sound and force imprisoned until now, was let loose. 

One of the dismal galleries through which the road is 
carried at that perilous point, a cave eked out by arches 
of great strength, was near at hand. They struggled into 
it, and the storm raged wildly. The noise of the wind, 
the noise of the water, the thundering down of displaced 
masses of rock and snow, the awful voices with which 
not only that gorge but every gorge in the whole mon- 
strous range seemed to be suddenly endowed, the darkness 
as of night, the violent revolving of the snow, which beat 
and broke it into spray and blinded them, the madness of 
everything around insatiate for destruction, the rapid sub- 
stitution of furious violence for unnatural calm, and hosts 
of appalling sounds for silence ; these were things, on the 
edge of a deep abyss, to chill the blood, though the fierce 
wind, made actually solid by- ice and snow had failed to 
chill it. 

Obenreizer, walking to and fro in the gallery without 
ceasing, signed to Vendale to help him unbuckle his knap- 
sack. They could see each other, but could not have 
heard each other speak. Vendale complying, Obenreizer 
produced his bottle of wine, and poured some out, motion- 
ing Vendale to take that for warmth's sake, and not 



ON THE MOUNTAIN. 127 

brandy. Vendale .again complying, Obenreizcr seemed 
to drink after him, and the two walked backwards and 
forw;ards side by side ; both well knowing that to rest or 
sleep would be to die. 

The snow came driving heavily into the gallery by the 
upper end at which they would pass out of it, if they ever 
passed out ; for greater dangers lay on the road behind 
them than before. Tlie snow soon began to choke the 
arch. An hour more, and it lay so high as to block out 
half of the returning daylight. But it froze hard now, as 
it fell, and could be clambered through or over. The 
violence of the mountain storm was gradually yielding to 
a steady snowfall. The wind still raged at intervals, but 
not incessantly ; and when it paused, the snow fell in 
heavy flakes. 

They might have been two hours in their frightful pri- 
son, when Obenreizer, now crunching into the mound, 
now creeping over it with his head bowed down and his 
body touching the top of the arch, made his way out. 
Vendale followed close. upon him, but followed without 
clear motive or calculation. For the lethargy of Basle 
was creeping over him again, and mastering his senses. 

How far he had followed out of the gallery, or with 
what obstacles he had since contended, he knew not. He 
became aroused to the knowledge that Obenreizer had set 
upon him, and that they were struggling desperately in 
the snow. He became aroused to the remembrance of 
what his assailant carried in his girdle. He felt for it, 
drew it, struck at him, struggled again, struck at him 
again, cast him off and stood face to face with him. 

" I promised to guide you to your journey's end," said 
Obenreizer, ** and I have kept my promise. The journey 
of your life ends here. Nothing can prolong it. You 
are sleeping as you stand." 

" You are a villain. What have you done to me ? " 



128 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

" You are a fool. I have drugged you. You are doubly 
a fool, for I drugged you once before upon the journey, 
to try you. You are trebly a fool, for I am the thief and 
forger, and in a few moments I shall take those proofs 
against the thief and forger from your inse nsible body." 

The entrapped man tried to throw off the lethargy, but 
its fatal hold upon him was so sure that, even while he 
heard those words, he stupidly wondered Which of them 
had been wounded, and whose blood it was that he saw 
sprinkled on the snow. 

" What have I done to you," he asked, heavily and 
thickly, " that you should be — so base — a murderer ? " 

" Done to me ? You would have destroyed me, but 
that you have come to your journey's end. Your cursed 
activity interposed between me and the time I had count- 
ed on in which I might have replaced the money. Done 
to me ? You have come in my way — not once, not twice, 
but again and again and again. Did I try to shake you 
off in the beginning, or no ? You were not to be shaken 
off. Therefore you die here." 

Vendale tried to think coherently, tried to speak coher- 
ently, tried to pick up the iron-shod staff he had let fall ; 
failing to touch it, tried to stagger on without its aid. All 
in vain, all in vain ! He stumbled, and fell heavily for- 
ward on the brirk of the deep chasm. 

Stupefied, dozing, unable to stand upon his feet, a veil 
before his eyes, his sense of hearing deadened, he made 
such a vigorous rally that, supporting himself on his 
hands, he saw his enemy standing calmly over him, and 
heard him speak. 

" You call me murderer," said Obenreizer, with a grim 
laugh. " The name matters very little. But at least I 
have set my life against yours, for I am surrounded by 
dangers, and may never make my way out of this place. 
The Tourmfi^'^ '• ^-^na. again. The snow is on the whirl. 



ON THE MOUNTAIN. 129 

I must have the papers now. Every moment has my life 
in it." 

" Stop ! " cried Vendale in a terrible voice, staggering 
with a last flash of fire breaking out of him, and clutching 
the thievish hands at his breast, in both of his. " Stop ! 
Stand away from me ! God bless my Marguerite ! Hap- 
pily she will never know how I died. Stand off from me, 
and let me look at your murderous face. Let it remind 
me — of something — left to say." 

The sight of him figliting so hard for his senses, and 
the doubt whether he might not for the instant be possess- 
ed by the strength of a dozen men, kept his opponent 
still. Wildly glaring at him, Vendale faltered out the 
broken words: 

" It shall not be — the trust — of the dead — betrayed by 
me — reputed parents — misinheri ted fortune — see to it! " 

As his head dropped on his breast, and he stumbled on 
the brink of the chasm as before, the thievish hands went 
once more, quick and busy to his breast. He made a con- 
vulsive attempt to cry " No ! " desperately rolled himself 
over into the gulf ; and sank away from his enemy's touch, 
like a phantom in a dreadful dream. 

The mountain storm raged again, and passed again. 
The awful mountain-voices died away, the moon rose, and 
the soft silent snow fell. 

Twa men and two large dogs came out at the door of 
the Hospice. The men looked carefully around them, 
and up at the sky. The dogs rolled in the snow, and 
took it into their mouths, and cast it up with their paws. 

One of the men said to the other : " We may venture 
now. We may find them in one of the five Refuges." 
Each fastened on his back, a basket ; each took in his 
hand, a strong spiked pole : each girded under his arms, a 
looped end of a stout rope, so that they were all tied to- 
gether. 



130 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

Suddenly tlie dogs desisted from their gambols in the 
snow, stood looking down the ascent, put their noses up, 
put their noses down, became greatly excited, and broke 
into a deep loud bay together. 

The two men looked in the faces of the two do^s. The 
two dogs looked, with at least equal intelligence, in the 
faces of the two men. 

" Au secours, then ! Help ! To the rescue ! " cried 
the two men. The two dogs, with a glad, deep, generous 
bark, bounded away. 

" Two more mad ones ! " said the men stricken motion- 
less, and looking away into the moonlight. " Is it possi- 
ble in such weather ! And one of them a woman ! " 

Each of the dogs had the comer of a woman's dress in 
its mouth, and drew her along. She fondled their heads 
as she came up through the snow with an accustomed 
tread. Not so the large man with her, who was spent 
and winded. 

" Dear guides, dear friends of travellers ! V-am of your 
country. We seek two gentlemen crossing the Pass, who 
should have reached the Hospice this evening." 

" They have reached it, ma'am selle," 

" Thank Heaven ! O thank Heaven ! " 

" But, unhappily, they have gone on again. We are 
setting forth to seek them even now. We had to wait 
until the Tourmente passed. It has been fearful up here. 

^* Dear guides, dear friends of travellers ! Let me go 
with you. Let me go with you, for the love of God ! 
One of those gentlemen is to be my husband. I love him, 
oh, so dearly ! O, so dearly ! You see I am not faint, you 
see I am not tired. I am born a peasant girl. I will show 
you that I know well how to fasten myself to your ropes. 
I will do it with my own hands. I will swear to be brave 
and good. But let me go with you, let me go with you ! If 
any mischance should have befallen him, my love would 



ON THE MOUNTAIN. 131 

find him, when nothing else could. On my knees, dear 
friends of travellers ! By the love your dear mothers had 
for your good fathers ! " 

The good rough fellows were moved. " After all," 
they murmured to one another, " She speaks but the 
truth. See how marvellously she has come here ! But as 
to Monsieur there, ma'amselle ? " 

" Dear Joey," said Marguerite, addressing him in his 
own tongue, " you will remain at the house, and wait for 
me ; will you not ? " 

"If I • know'd which of you two recommended it," 
growled Joey Ladle, eyeing the two men with great in- 
dignation, " I'd fight you for sixpence, and give you half- 
a-crown towards your expenses. No, Miss. I'll stick by 
you as long as there's any sticking left in me, and I'll die 
for you when I can't do better." 

The state of the moon rendering it highly important 
that no time should be lost, and the dogs showing signs 
of great uneasiness, the two men quickly took their reso- 
lution. The rope that yoked them together was exchanged 
for a longer one; the party were secured. Marguerite 
second, and the Cellarman last ; and they set out for the 
Refuges. The actual distance of those places was noth- 
ing ; the whole five and the next Hospice to boot, being 
within two miles ; but the ghastly way was whitened out 
and sheeted over. 

They made no miss in reaching the Gallery where the 
two had taken shelter. The second storm of wind and 
snow had so wildly swept over it since, that their tracks 
were gone. But the dogs went to and fro with their 
noses down, and were confident. The party stopping, 
however, at the furtlier arch, where the second storm had 
been especially furious, and where the drift was deep, the 
dogs became troubled, and went about and about, in quest 
of a lost purpose. 



132 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

The great abyss being known to lie on the right, they 
wandered too much to the left, and had to regain the way 
with infinite labor through a deep field of snow. The lead- 
er of the line had stopped it, and was taking note of the 
landmarks, when one of the dogs fell to tearing up the 
snow a little before them. Advancing and stooping to 
look at it, thinking that some one might be overwhelmed 
there, they saw that it was stained, and that the stain was 
red. 

The other dog was now seen to look over the brink of 
the gulf, with his fore legs straightened ont, lest he should 
fall into it, and to tremble in every limb. Then the dog 
who had found the stained snow joined him, and then 
they ran to and fro distressed and whining. Finally, 
they both stopped on the brink together, and setting up 
their heads, howled dolefully. 

" There is some one lying below," said Marguerite. 

" I think so," said the foremost man. " Stand well 
inward, the two last, and let us look over. 

The last man kindled two torches from his basket, and 
handed them forward. The leader taking one, and 
Marguerite the other, they looked down : now shading 
the torches, now moving them to the right or left, now 
raising them, now depressing them, as moonlight far 
below contended with black shadows. A piercing cry 
from Marguerite broke a long silence. 

" My God ! On a projecting point, where a wall of 
ice stretches forward over the torrent, I see a human 
form ! " 

" Where, ma'amselle, where ? " 

" See, there ! On the shelf of ice below the dogs ! " 

The leader, with a sickened aspect, drew inward, and 
they were all silent. But they were not all inactive, for 
Marguecite, with swift and skilful fingers, had detached 
both herself and him from the rope in a few seconds. 



ON THE MOUNTAIN. 133 

"Show me the basket. These two are the onlj 
ropes ? " 

" The only ropes here, ma'amselle ; but at the Hos- 
pice " 

" If he is alive — I know it is my lover — ^he will be 
dead bsfore you can return. D^ar Guides ! Blessed 
friends of travellers ! Look at me. Watch my hands. 
If they falter or go wrong, make me your prisoner by 
force. If they are steady and go right, help me to save 
him ! " 

She girded herself with a cord under the breast and 
arms, she formed it into a kind of jacket, she drew it into 
knots, she laid its end side by side with the end of the 
other cord, she twisted and twined the two together, she 
set her foot upon the knots, she strained them, she held 
them for the two men to strain at. 

'' She is inspired," they said to one another. 
" By the Almighty's mercy I " she exclaimed. " You 
both know that I am by far the lightest here. Give me 
the brandy and the wine, and lower me down to him. 
Then go for assistance and a stronger rope. You see 
that when it is lowered to me — look at this about me 
now — I can make it fast and safe to his body. Alive or 
dead, I will bring him up, or die with him. I love him 
passionately. Can I say more ? " 

They turned to her companion, but he was lying sens^ 
less on the snow. 

** Lower me down to him," she said, taking two little 
kegs they had brought, and hanging them about her " or 
I will dash myself to pieces ! I am a peasant, and I 
know no giddiness or fear ; and this is nothing to me, 
and I passionately love him. Lower me down ! " 
*• M:i'amselle,*ma'am5elle, he must be dying or dead." 
" Dying or dead, my husband's head shall lie upon my 
breast, or I will dash myself to pieces." 



134 NO TIIOUOUGHFARE. 

Thoy yioldod, overborne. With such precautions as 
their skill and the circiunstances admitted, they let her 
Blip from the summit, guiding herself down the precipi- 
tous icy wall with her hand, and they lowered down, and 
lowered down, and lowered down, until the cry came up : 
" Enough ! " 

" Is it really he, and is he dead ? " they called down, 
looking over^ 

The cry came up : " He is insensible ; but his heart 
beats. It beats against mine." 

" How does he lie ? " 

The cry came up : " Upon a ledge of ice. It has 
thawed beneath him, and it will thaw beneath me. Has- 
ten. If we die, I am content." 

One of the two men hurried off with the dogs at such 
topmost speed as he could make; the other set up the 
lighted torches in the snow, and applied himself to recov- 
ering the Englishman. Much snow-chaiing and some 
brandy got him on his legs, but delirious and quite uncon- 
scious where he was. 

The watch remained upon the brink and his cry went 
down continually : " Courage ! They wdll soon be here. 
How goes it ! " And the cry came up : " His heart still 
beats against mine. I warm him in my arms. I have 
.cast off the rope, for the ice melts under us, and the rope 
would separate me from him ; but I am not afraid." 

The moon went down behind the mountain tops, and 
all the abyss lay in darkness. The cry went down : 
" How goes it ? " The cry came up : " We are sinking 
lower, but his heart still beats aorainst mine." 

At length, the eager barking of the dogs, and a flare of 
light upon the snow, proclaimed that help was coming 
on. Twenty or thirty men, lamps, torches, litters, ropes, 
blankets, wood to kindle a great fire, restoratives and 
stimulants, came in fast. The dogs ran from one man to 



ON THE MOUNTAIN. 185 

another, and from this thing to that, and ran to the edge 
of the abyss, dumbly entreating Speed, speed, speed ! 

The cry went down : " Thanks to God, all is ready. 
How goes it ? " 

The cry came up : " We are sinking still, and we are 
deadly cold. His heart no longer beats against mine. 
Let no one come down, to add to our weight. Lower the 
rope only." 

The fire was kindled high, a great glare of torches 
lighted the sides of the precipice, lamps were lowered, a 
strong rope was lowered. She could be seen passing it 
round him, and making it secure. 

The cry came up into a deadly silence : " Raise ! 
Softly ! " They could see her diminished figure shrink, 
as he was swung into the air. 

They gave no shout when some of them laid him on a 
litter, and others lowered another strong rope. The cry 
came up into a deathly silence : " Raise ! Softly ! '* 
But when they caught her at the brink, then they shouted, 
then they wept, then they gave thanks to Heaven, then 
they kissed her feet, then they kissed her dress^ then the 
dogs caressed her, licked her icy hands, and with their 
honest faces warmed her frozen bosom ! 

She broke from them all, and sank over him on his 

litter, with both her loving hands upon the heart that 

stood still. 

6* 



136 NO THOBOLCnFABE- 



AcT IV. 

TIIK Cl.OCK-LOCK. 

fl'^IlK pltmMiinl HiMMH^ waH Noucliat(;l ; the pleasant 
1 uuuuh \\m i\\\v\\ \ tlio plcasnnt place was a notary's 
oOI»'«M iIm» pIpMHant porson in it was tlie notary: a 
r»i«.y. lumrf^v. Iunulmmn« oU\ man, chit^f notary of Neu- 
I'hrtfi^l, kh»»Nvn lur ami wi<i(^ in the canton as Maitre 
Viil^f. PrnroNNliinally an<i personally, the notary was 
n luipMlai' cill/cii. His innumerable knidnesses and his 
InnumorahltMuMitii^s Iwul for years made him one of the 
i'or»«^Mi/iu| pulilie charac^ters of the pleasant Swiss town. 
Ilin lnhjL« lu'own froek-eoat and his sknll-cap were 
aui»mn llio institntions of the place; and he carried a 
hUulV ho\ which, in point of size, was popularly believed 
iw \\\\ without a parallel in Europe. 

Tluu-n was another person in the notary's office, 
hot so pleasant as the notary. This was Obenreizer. 

An oddly jmstoral kind of office it was, and one 
that would nev(ir have answered in England. It stood 
hi a neat liack yard, fcniced off from a pretty flower- 
garden, (ioats browsed in the door-way, and a cow 
was within half-a-dozcui feet of keeping company with 
the clerk. Maitre Voigt's room was a bright and 
varnished little room, with panelled walls, like a toy- 
chamber. According to the season of the year, roses, 
fiuiiiiowers, hollvhocks, peeped in at the windows. 



THE CLOCK-LOCK. 187 

Maitre Voigt*s bees hummed through the office all • 
the summer, in at this window and out at that, taking 
it frequently in their day's work, as if honey were 
to be made from Maitre Voigt's sweet disposition. 
A large musical box on the chimney-piece, often 
trilled away at the Overture to Fra Diavolo, or a 
Selection from William Tell, with a chirruping live- 
liness that had to be stopped by force on the entrance 
of a client, and irrepressibly broke out again the mo-' 
ment his back was turned. 

" Courage, courage, my good fellow ! " said Maitre 
Voigt, patting Obenreizer on the knee, in a fatherly 
and comforting way. ** You will begin a new life to- 
morrow morning in my office here. " 

Obenreizer— dressed in mourning, and subdued in 
manner — lifted his hand, with a white handkerchief in 
it, to the region of his heart. " The gratitude is here, " 
he said. " But the words to express it are not here. " 

" Ta-ta-ta I Don't talk to me about gratitude ! " said 
Maitre Voigt. " I hate to see a man oppressed. I 
see you are oppressed, and I hold out my hand to you 
by instinct. Besides I am not too old yet, to re- 
member my young days. Your father sent me my first 
client. (It was on a question of half an acre of vine- 
yard that seldom bore any grapes.) Do I owe nothing 
to your father's son ? I owe hini a debt of friendly 
obligation, and I pay it to you. That's rather neat- 
ly expressed, I think," added Maitre Voigt, in high 
good humor with himself. " Permit me to reward 
my own merit 'with a pinch of snujff ! " 

Obenreizer dropped his eyes to the ground as though 
he were not even worthy to see the notary take 
snuff. 

"Do me one last favor, sir," he said when he 
raised his eyes. " Do not act on impulse. Thus far, 



138 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

you have only a general knowledge of my position. 
Hear the case for and against me, in its details, be- 
fore you take me into your office. Let my claim on 
your benevolence be recognized by your sound reason 
as well as by your excellent heart. In that case, I 
may hold up my head against the bitterest of my 
enemies, and build myself a new reputation on the ruins 
of the character I have lost." 

" As you will, " said Maitre Voigt. " You speak 
well, my son. You will be a fine lawyer one of 
these days." 

"The details are not many," pursued Obenreizer. 
" My troubles begin with the accidental death of my 
late travelling companion, my lost dear friend, Mr. 
Vendale. " 

" Mr. Vendale, " repeated the notary. " Just so. I 
have heard and read of the name several times with- 
in these two months. The name of the unfortunate 
English gentleman who was killed on the Simplon. 
When you got that scar upon your cheek and neck." 

" — From my own knife," said Obenreizer, touching 
what must have been an ugly gash at the time of its 
infliction. 

" From your own knife," assented the notary, " and in 
trying to save him. Good, good, good. That was very 
good. Vendale. Yes. I have several times, lately, 
thought it droll that I should once have had a client of 
that name." 

" But the world, sir," returned Obenreizer, " is so 
small ! " Nevertheless, he made a mental note that the 
notary had once had a client of that name. 

"As I was saying, sir, the death of that dear travel- 
ling comrade begins my troubles. What follows ? I save 
myself. I go down to Milan. I am received with cold- 
ness hy Def refin''*'' **«'' Oompany. Shortly afterwards, I am 



THE CLOCK-LOCK. 139 

discharged by Defresnier and Company. Why ? They 
give no reason why. I ask, do they assail my honor ? No an- 
swer. I ask, what is the imputation against me ? No answer. 
I ask, where are their proofs against me ? No answer. 
I ask, what am I to think ? The reply is, * M. Oben- 
reizer is free to think what he will. What M. Obenreizer 
thinks, is of no importance to Desfresnier and Company.' 
And that is all.'' 

" Perfectly. That is all," assented the notary, taking 
a large pinch of snuff. 

" But is that enough, sir ? " 
" That is not enough," said Maitre Voigt. 
" The House of Defresnier are my fellow-townsmen — 
much respected, much esteemed — but the House of De- 
fresnier must not silently destroy a man's character. You 
can rebut assertion. But how can you rebut silence ? " 
. " Your sense of justice, my dear patron," answered 
Obenreizer, " states in a word the cruelty of the case. 
Does it stop there ? No. For, what follows upon that ? " 
" True, my poor boy," said the notary, with a comfort- 
ing nod or two ; " your ward rebels upon that." 

** Rebels is too soft a word," retorted Obenreizer. 
" My ward revolts from me with horror. My ward de- 
fies me. My ward withdraws herself from my authority, 
and takes shelter (Madame Dor with her) in the house of 
that English lawyer, Mr. Bintrey, who replies to your 
summons to her to submit herself to my authority, that 
she will not do so." 

" — And who afterwards writes," said the notary, mov- 
ing his large snuff-box to look among the papers under- 
neath it for the letter, "that he is coming to confer with me." 
" Indeed ? " replied Obenreizer, rather checked. *' Well, 
sir. Have I no legal rights ? " 

"Assuredly, my poor boy," returned the notary. '* All 
but felons have their legal rights." 



140 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

*' And who calls me felon ? " said Obenreizer, fiercely. 

" No one. Be calm under your wrongs. If the House 
of Defresnier would call you felon, indeed, we should 
know how to deal with them." 

While saying these words, he had handed Bin trey's 
very short letter to Obenreizer, who now read it and gave 
it back. 

'* In saying," observed Obenreizer, with recovered com- 
posure, " that he is coming to confer with you, this Eng- 
lish lawyer means that he is coming to deny my authority 
over my ward." 
. " You think so ? " 

"I am sure of it. I know him. He is obstinate and 
contentious. You will tell me, my dear sir, whether my 
authority is unassailable, until my ward is of age ? " 

" Absolutely unassailable." 

"I will enforce it. I will make her submit herself to, 
it. For," said Obenreizer, changing his angry tone to 
one of grateful submission, ** I owe it to you, sir ; to you, 
who have so confidingly taken an injured^ man under your 
protection and into your employment." 

" Make your mind easy," said Maitre Voigt. ^' No 
more of this now, and no thanks! Be. here to-morrow 
mornino:, before the other clerk comes — between seven 
and eio:ht. You will find me in this room ; and I will 
myself initiate you in your work. Go away ! go away ! 
I have letters to write. I won't hear a word more." 

Dismissed with this generous abruptness, and satisfied 
with the favorable impression he had left on the old man's 
mind, Obenreizer was at leisure to revert to the mental 
note he kad made that Maitre Voigt once had a client 
whose name wasVendale. 

" I ought to know England well enough by this time ; " 
so his meditation ran, as he sat on a bench in the yard ; 
** and it is not a name lever encountered there, except — " 



THE CLOCK-LOCK. 141 

he looked involuntarily over his shoulder — " as Ms name. 
Is the world so small that I cannot get away from him, 
even now when he is dead? He confessed at the last 
that he had betrayed the trust of the dead, and misinherit- 
ed a fortune. And I was to stand off that my face might 
remind him of it. Why my face, unless it concerned 
me 7 I am sure of his words, for they have been in my 
ears ever since. Can there be anything bearing on them, 
in the keeping of this old idiot ? Anything to repair my 
fortunes, and blacken his memory ? He dwelt upon my 
earliest remembrances, that night at Basle. Why, unless 
he had a purpose in it ? '' 

Maitre Voigt's two largest he-goats were butting at 
him to butt him out of the place as if for disrespectful 
mention of their master. So he got up and left the place. 
But he walked alone for a long time on the border of the 
lake, with his head drooped in deep thought. 

Between seven and eight next morning, he presented 
himself again at the office. He found the notary ready 
for him, at work on some papers which had come in on the 
previous evening. In a few clear words Maitre Voigt 
explained the routine of the office, and the duties Oben- 
reizer would be expected to perform. It still wanted five 
minutes to eight, when the preliminary instructions were 
declared to be complete. 

" I will show you over the house and the offices," said 
Maitre Voigt, *' but I must put away these papers first. 
They come from the municipal authorities, and they must 
be taken special care of." 

Obenreizer saw his chance, here, of finding out the re- 
pository in which his employer's private papers were 
kept. 

** Can't I save you the trouble, sir ? " he asked. *^ Can't 
I put these documents away under your directions ? " 
Maitre Voigt laughed softly himself ; closed the port- 



142 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

folio in which the papers had been sent to him ; handed 
it to Obenreizer. 

** Suppose you try," he said. " All my papers of im- 
portance are kept yonder." 

lie pointed to a heavy oaken door, thickly studded 
with nails, at the lower end of the room. Approaching 
the door, with the portfolio, Obenreizer discovered, to his 
astonishment that there were no means whatever of open- 
ing it from the outside. There was no handle, no bolt, 
no key, and (climax of passive obstruction ! ) no key- 
hole. 

" There is a second door to this room ? " said Oben- 
reizer, appealing to the notary. 

** No,*' said Maitre Voigt. " Guess again." 

** There is a window ? " 

** Nothing of the sort. The window has been bricked 
up. The only way in, is the way by that door. Do you 
give it up ? " cried Maitre Voigt, in high triumph. " Lis- 
ten, my good fellow, and tell me if you hear nothing in- 
side ? " 

" Obenreizer listened for a moment ard started back 
from the door. 

'* I know ? " he exclaimed. " I heard of this when I 
was apprenticed here at the watch-maker's. Perrin Bro- 
th ershave finished their famous clock-lock at last — and you 
have got it ? " 

" Bravo ! " said Maitre Voigt. " The clock-lock it is ! 
Thei e, my son ! There you have one more of what the 
good people of this town call, * Daddy Voigt's follies.' 
With all my heart ! Let those laugh who win. No thief can 
steal my keys. No burglar can pick my lock. No ponder 
on earth, short of a battering-ram or a barrel of gunpow- 
der, can move that door, till my little sentinel inside — my 
worthy friend who goes ' Tick, Tick,' as I tell him — says, 
* Open ! ' The big door obeys the little Tick, Tick, and the 



THE CLOCK-LOCK. 143 

little Tick, Tick, obeys me. That ! " cried Daddy Yoigt, 
snapping his fingers, " for all the thieves in Christen- 
dom!" 

" May I see it in action ? " asked Obenreizer. " Pardon 
my curiosity, dear sir ! You know that I was once a 
tolerable worker in the clock trade." 

" Certainly you shall see it in action," said Maitre 
Voigt. " What is the time now ? One minute to eight. 
Watch, and in one minute you will see the door open of 
itself." 

In one minute, smoothly and slowly and silently, as if 
invisible hands had set it free, the heavy door opened in- 
ward, and disclosed a dark chamber beyond. On three 
sides, shelves filled the walls, from floor to ceiling. Ar- 
ranged on the shelves, were rows upon rows of boxes 
made in the pretty inlaid wood-work of Switzerland, and 
bearing inscribed on their fronts (for the most part in 
fanciful colored letters) the names of the notary's clients. 

Msutre Voigt lighted a taper, and led the way into the 
room. 

" You shall see the clock," he said, proudly. " I pos- 
sess the greatest curiosity in Europe. It is only a privi- 
leged few whose eyes can look at it. I give the privilege 
to your good father's son — you shall be one of the favored 
few who enter the room with me. See ! here it is, on 
the right-hand wall at the side of the door." 

" An ordinary clock," exclaimed Obenreizer. " No ! 
Not an ordinary clock. It has only one hand." 

" Aha ! " said Maitre Voigt. " Not an ordinary clock, 
my friend. No, no. That one hand goes round the dial. 
As I put it, so it regulates the hour at which the door 
shall open. See ! The hand points to eight. At eight 
the door opened, as you saw for yourself." 

"Does it open more than once in the four-and-twenty 

hours?" asked Obenreizer. 

7 



144 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

"More thanouce?" repeated the notary, with great 
scorn. " You don't know my good friend, Tick-Tick ! 
He will open the door us often as I ask him. All he 
wants, is his directions, and he gets them here. Look 
below the dial. Here is a half-circle of steel let into the 
wall, and here is a hand (called the regulator) that travels 
round it, just as my hand chooses. Notice, if you please, 
that there are figures to guide me on the half-circle of 
steel. Figure I. means : Open once in the four-and- 
twenty hours. Figure II. means : Open twice : and so 
on to the end. 1 set the regulator every morning, after 
I have read my letters, and when I know what my day's 
work is to be. Woidd you like to see me set it now ? 
What is to-day ? Wednesday. Good ! This is the day of 
our rifle-club ; there is little business to do ; I grant a 
half-holiday. No work here to-day, after three o' clock. 
Let us first put away this portfolio of municipal papers. 
There ! No need to trouble Tick-Tick to open the door 
until eight to-morrow. Good ! I leave the dial-hand at 
eight ; I put back the regulator to ' I. ; ' I close the door ; 
and closed the door remains, past all opening by anybody 
till to-morrow morning at eight." 

Obenreizer's quickness instantly saw the means by 
which he might make the clock-lock betray its master's 
confidence, and place its master's papers at his disposal. 

" Stop, sir ! " he cried, at the moment when the notary 
was closing the door. "Don't I see something moving 
among the boxes — on the floor there? " 

(Maitre Voigt turned his back for a moment to look. 
In that moment, Obenreizer's ready hand put the regulator 
on, from the figure ' I.' to the fi«-ure ' II.' Unless the 
notary looked again at the half-circle of steel. the door 
would open at eight that evening, as well as at eight next 
morning, and nobody but Obenreizer would know it.) 
" There is nothing ! " said Maitre Voigt. " Your trou- 



THE CLOCK-LOCK. 145 

bles have shaken your nerves, my son. Some shadow 
thrown by my taper ; or some poor little beetle, who lives 
among the old lawyer's secrets, running away from the 
light. Hark ! I hear your fellow-clerk in the office. To 
work ! to work ! and build to-day the first step that leads 
to your new fortunes ! *' 

He good humoredly pushed Obenreizer out before him ; 
extinguished the taper, with a last fond glance at his 
clock which passed harmlessly over the regulator beneath ; 
and closed the oaken door. 

At three, the office was shut up. The notary and every- 
body in the notary's employment, with one exception, 
went to see the rifle-shooting. Obenreizer had pleaded 
that he was not in spirits for a public festival. Nobody 
knew what had become of him. It was believed that he 
had slipped away for a solitary walk. 

The house and offices had been closed but a few minutes, 
when the door of a shining wardrobe, in the notary's 
shining room, opened, and Obenreizer stepped out. He 
walked to a window, unclosed the shutters, satisfied him- 
self that he could escape unseen by way of the garden, 
turned back into the room, and took his place in the no- 
tary's easy chair. He was locked up in the house, and 
there were five hours to wait before eight o'clock came. 

He wore his way through the ^ve hours ; sometimes 
reading the books and newspapers that lay on the table ; 
sometimes thinking : sometimes walking to and fro. Sun- 
set came on. He closed the window-shutters before he 
kindled a light. The candle lighted, and the time drawing 
nearer and nearer, he sat, watch in hand, with his eyes on 
the oaken door. 

At eight, smoothly and softly and silently the door 
opened. 

One after another, he read the names on the outer rows 
of boxes. No such name as Vendale ! He removed the 



146 NO THOROUGHFARE 

outer row and looked at the row behind. These were 
older boxes, and shabbier boxes. The four first that he 
examined, were inscribed with French and German names. 
The fifth bore a name which was almost illegible. He 
brought it out into the room and examined it closely. 
There, covered thickly with time-stams and dust, was the 
name : " Vendale." 

The key hung to the box by a string. He unlocked 
the box, took out four loose papers that were in it, spread 
them open on the table, and began to read them. He 
had not so occupied a minute, when his face fell from its 
expression of eagerness and avidity, to one of haggard 
astonishment and disappointment. But after a little con- 
sideration, he copied the papers. He then replaced the 
papers, replaced the box, closed the door, extinguished 
the candle, and stole away. 

As his murderous and thievish footfall passed out of 
the garden, the steps of the notary and some one accom- 
panying him stopped at the front door of the house. 
The lamps were lighted in the little street, and the notary 
had his door-key in his hand. 

" Pray do not pass my house, Mr. Bintrey," he said. 
" Do me the honor to come in. It is one of our town 
half-holidays— our Tir — ^but my people will be back 
directly. It is droll that you should ask your way to 
the Hotel of me. Let us eat and drink before you go 
there." 

" Thank you, not to-night," said Bintrey. " Shall I 
come to you at ten to-morrow ?" 

" I shall be enchanted, sir, to take so early an opportu- 
nity of redressing the wrongs of my injured client," re- 
turned the good notary, 

" Yes," retorted Bintrey ; " your injured client is all 
very well — ^but — a word in your ear." 

He whispered to the notary, and walked off. When 



obenreizer's victory. 147 

the notary's housekeeper came home, she found him 
standing at his door motionless, with the key still in his 
hand, and the door unopened . 

Obenreizer's victory. 

The scene shifts again — to the foot of the Simplon, on 
the Swiss side. 

In one of the dreary rooms of the dreary little inn at 
Brieg, Mr. Bin trey and Maitre Voigt sat together at a 
professional council of two. Mr. Bintrey was searching 
in his despatch-box. IMaitre" Voigt was looking towards 
a closed door, painted brown to imitate mahogany, and 
communicatins: with an inner room. 

" Isn't it time he was here?" asked the notary, shifting 
his position, and glancing at the second door at the other 
end of the room, painted yellow to imitate deal. 

" He is here," answered Bintrey, after listening for a 
moment. 

The yellow door was opened by a waiter, and Oben - 
reizer walked in. 

After greeting Maitre V-oigt with a cordiality which 
appeared to cause the notary no little embarrassment, 
Obenreizer bowed with grave and distant politeness to 
Bintrey. " For what reason have I been brought from 
NeuchS,tel to the foot of the mountain ? " he inquired, 
taking the seat which the English lawyer had indicated 
to him. 

" You shall be quite satisfied on that head before our 
interview is over," returned Bintrey. " For the present, 
permit me to suggest proceeding at onc« to business. 
There has been a correspondence, Mr. Obenreizer, between 
you and your niece. I am here to represent your niece." 

" In other words, you, a lawyer, are here to represent 
an infraction of the law." 



148 NO THOROrGHFARE. 

« Admirably put ! " said Bintrey. " If all the people 
I have to deal with, were only like you, what an easy 
profession mine would be ! I am here to represent an 
infraction of the law — that is your point of view. I am 
here to make a compromise between you and your niece 
— that is my point of view." 

" There must be two parties to a compromise," rejoin- 
ed Obenreizer. " I decline in this case, to be one of 
them. The law gives me authority to control my niece's 
actions, until she comes of age. She is not yet of age ; 
and I claim my authority." 

At this point, Maitre Voigt attempted to speak. Bin- 
trey silenced him with a compassionate indulgence of 
tone and manner, as if he was silencing a favorite child. 

" No my worthy friend, not a word. Don't excite 
yourself unnecessarily ; leave it to me." He turned 
and addressed himself again to Obenreizer. "• I can think 
of nothing comparable to you, Mr. Obenreizer, but gran- 
ite — ^and even that wears out in course of time. In 
the interests of peace and quietness — for the sake of 
your own dignity — relax a little. If you will only del- 
egate your authority to another person whom I know 
of, that person may be trusted never to lose sight of 
your niece, night or day !" 

"You are wasting your time and mine," returned 
Obenreizer. " If my niece is not rendered up to my 
authority within one week from this day, I invoke the 
law. If you resist the law, I take her by force." 

He rose to his feet as he said the last word. Maitre 
Voigt looked round again towards the brown door which 
»led into the inner room. 

# 

" Have some pity on the poor girl," pleaded Bintrey. 
" Eemember how lately she lost her lover by a dreadful 
death ! Will nothing move you ? " 

"Nothing." 



obenreizer's victory. 149 

Bintrey, in his turn, rose to his feet, and looked at 
Maitre Voigt. Maitre Voigt's hand, resting on the 
table, began to tremble. Maitre Voigt's eyes remained 
fixed, as if by irresistible fascination, on the brown door. 
Obenreizer, suspiciously observing him, looked that way 
too. 

" There is somebody listening in there ! " he exclaimed, 
with a sharp backward glance at Bintrey. 

" There are two people listening," answered Bintrey. 

" Who are they ? " 

"You shall see.'' 

With that answer, he raised his voice and spoke the 
next words — the two common words which are on every- 
body's lips, at every hour of the day : " Come in !" 

The brown door opened. Supported on Marguerite's 
arm — his sunburnt color gone, his right arm bandaged 
and slung over his breast — ^Yendale stood before the 
murderer, a man risen from the dead. 

In the moment of silence that followed, the singing 
of a caged bird in the courtyard outside was the one 
sound Stirling in the room. Maitre Voigt touched Bin- 
trey, and pointed to Obenreizer. " Look at him ! " said 
the notary, in a whisper. 

The shock had paralyzed every movement in the vil- 
lain's body, but the movement of the blood. His face 
was like the face of a corpse. The one vestige of color 
left in it was a livid purple streak which marked the 
course of the scar, where his victim had wounded him on 
the cheek and neck. Speechless, breathless, motionless 
alike in eye and limb, it seemed, as if, at the sight of 
Vendale, the death to which he had doomed Vendale had 
struck him where he stood. 

" Somebody ought to speak to him," said Maitre Voigt. 
" Shall I ? " 

Even at that moment, Bintrey persisted in silencing the 



150 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

notary, and in keeping the lead in the proceedings to 
himself. Checking Maitre Voigt by a gesture, he dis- 
missed Marguerite and Vendale in these words : — " The 
object of your appearance here is answered," he said. 
" If you will withdraw, it may help Mr. Obenreizer to 
recover himself." 

It did help him. As the two passed through the door, 
and closed it behind them, he drew a deep breath of 
relief. He looked around him for the chair from which 
he had risen, and dropped into it. 

" Give him time ! " pleaded Maitre Voigt. 

" No," said Bintrey. " I don't know what use he may 
make of it, if I do." He turned once more to Obenreizer, 
and went on. " 1 owe it to myself," he said — " I don't 
admit, mind, that I owe it to you — to account for my 
appearance in these proceedings and to state what has 
been done under my advice, and on my sole responsibility. 
Can you listen to me ? " 

" I can listen to you." 

" Recall the time when you started for Switzerland 
with Mr. Vendale," Bintrey began. " You had not left 
England four-and twenty hours, before your niece com- 
mitted an act of imprudence which not even your pene- 
tration could foresee. She followed her promised husband 
on his journey, without asking anybody's advice or per- 
mission, and without any better companion to protect her 
than a Cellarman in Mr. Vendale's employment." 

" Why did she follow me on the journey ? and how 
came the Cellarman to be the person who accompanied 
her ? " 

" She followed you on the journey," answered Bintrey, 
" because she suspected there had been some serious col- 
lision between you and Mr. Vendale, which had been 
kept secret from her ; and because she rightly believed 
jou to be capable of serving your interests, or of satisfy- 



OBENREIZKR*8 VICTORT. 151 

ing your enmity, at the price of a crime. As for the Cel- 
larman, he was one, among the other people in Mr. Ven- 
dale's establishment, to whom she had applied (the mo- 
ment your back was turned) to know if anything had 
happened between their master and you. The Cellar- 
man alone had something to tell her. A senseless super- 
stition, and a common accident which had happened to 
his master, in his master's cellar, had connected Mr. Ven- 
dale in this man's mind with the idea of danger by mur- 
der. Your niece surprised him into a confession, which 
aggravated ten-fold the terrors that possessed her. 
Aroused to a sense of the mischief he had done, the man 
of his own accord, made the one atonement in his power. 
* If my master is in danger, miss,' he said, * it's my duty 
to follow him, too ; and it's more than my duty to take 
care of you^ The two set forth together — ^and, for once, 
a superstition has had its use. It decided your niece on 
taking the journey ; and it led the way to saving a man's 
life. Do you understand me, so far ? " 

" I understand you, so far." 

" My first knowledge of the crime that you had com- 
mitted," pursued Bintrey, *' came to me in the form of a 
letter from your niece. All you need know is that her 
love and her courage, recovered the body of your victim, 
and aided the after-efforts which brought him back to 
life. While he lay helpless at Brieg, under her care, she 
wrote to me to come out to him. Before starting, I 
informed Madame Dor that I knew Miss Obenreizer to 
be safe, and knew where she was. Madame Dor inform- 
ed me, in return, that a letter had come for your niece, 
which she knew to be in your handwriting. I took pos- 
session of it, and arranged for the forwarding of any 
' other letters which might follow. Arrived at Brieg, I 
found Mr. Vendale out of danger, and at once devoted 
myself to hastening the day of reckoning with you. De- 



152 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

fresnier and Company turned you off on suspicion ; acting 
on information privately supplied by me. Having strip- 
ped you of your false character, the next thing to do was 
to strip you of your authority over your niece. To 
reach this end, I not only had no scruple in digging the 
pitfall under your feet in the dark — I felt a certain pro- 
fessional pleasure in fighting you with your own weapons. 
By my advice, the truth has been carefully concealed from 
you, up to this day. By my advice, the trap into which 
you have walked was set for you (you know why, now, 
as well as I do) in this place. There was but one certain 
way of shaking the devilish self-control which has hitherto 
made you a formidable man. That way has been tried, 
and (look at me as you may) that way has succeeded. 
The last thing that remains to be done," concluded Bin- 
trey, producing two little slips or manuscript from his des- 
patch-box, " is to set your niece free. You have attempt- 
ed murder, and you have committed forgery and theft. 
We have the evidence ready against you in both cases. If 
you are convicted as a felon, you know as well as T do 
what becomes of your authority over your niece. Per- 
sonally, I should have preferred taking that way out of 
it. But considerations are pressed on me which I am not 
able to resist, and this interview must end, as I have told 
you already, in a compromise. Sign those lines, resign- 
ing all authority over Miss Obenreizer, and pledging your- 
self never to be seen in England or in Switzerland again ; 
and I will sign an indemnity which secures you against 
further proceedings on our part." 

Obenreizer took the pen, in silence, and signed his 
niece's release. On receiving the indemnity in return? 
he rose, but made no movement to leave the room. He 
stood looking at Maitre Voigt with a strange smile gath- 
ering at his lips, and a strange light flashing in his filmy 
eyes. \^ 



obenreizer's victory. 153 

" What are you waiting for ? " asked Bintrey. 

Obenreizer pointed to the brown door. " Call them 
back,'* he answered. " I have something to say in their 
presence before I go." 

" Say it in my presence," retorted Bintrey. ** I decline 
to call them back." 

Obenreizer turned to Maitre Voigt. " Do you remem- 
ber telling me that you once had an English client named 
Vendale?" he asked. 

" Well ! " answered the notary. " And what of that ? " 

" Maitre Voigt, your clock-lock has betrayed you." 

" What do you mean ? " 

" I have read the letters and certificates in your client's 
box. I have taken copies of them. I have got the cop- 
ies here. Is there, or is there not, a reason for calling 
them back ! " 

"* For a moment the notary looked to and fro, between 
Obenreizer and Bintrey, in helpless astonishment. Re- 
covering himself, he drew his brother-lawyer aside, and 
hurriedly spoke a few words close at his ear. The face 
of Bintrey, — after first faithfully reflecting the astonish- 
ment on the face of Maitre Voigt — suddenly altered its 
expression. lie sprang, with the activity of a young man, 
to the door of the inner room, entered it, remained inside 
for a minute, and returned followed by Marguerite and 
Vendale. " Now, Mr. Obenreizer," said Bintrey, " the 
last move in the game is yours. Play it." 

'* Before I resign my position as that young lady's guar- 
dian," said Obenreizer, *' I have a secret to reveal in 
which she is interested. In making my disclosure, I am 
not claiming her attention for a narrative which she, or 
any other person present is expected to take on trust. I 
am possessed of written proofs, copies of originals, the 
authenticity of which Maitre Voigt himself can attest. 
Bear that in mind, and permit me to refer you, at 



154 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

starting, to a date long past — the month of February, in 
the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six/' 

" Mark the date, Mr. Vendale," said Bin trey. 

*' My first proof," said Obenreizer, taking a paper from 
his pocket-book. '* Copy of a letter, written by an Eng- 
lish lady (married) to her sister, a widow. The name of 
the person writing the letter I shall keep suppressed un- 
til I have done. The name of the person to whom the 
the letter is written I am willing to reveal. It is addressed 
to * Mrs. Jane Ann Miller, of Groombridge-wells, Eng- 
land." 

Vendale started, and opened his lips to speak. Bintrey 
instantly stopped him, as he had stopped Maitre Voigt. 
" No," said the pertinacious lawyer. *' Leave it to me." 

Obenreizer went on : 

" It is needless to trouble you with the first half of the 
letter," he said. " I can give the substance of it in two 
words. The writer^s position at the time is this. She 
has been long living in Switzerland with her husband — 
obliged to live there for the sake of her husband's health. 
They are about to move to a new residence on the Lake 
of Neuchatel in a week, and they will be ready to receive 
Mrs. Miller as visitor in a fortnight from that time. This 
said, the writer. next enters into an important domestic 
detail. She had been childless for years — she and her 
husband have now no hope of children ; they are lonely ; 
they want an interest in life ; they have decided on adop- 
ting a child. Here the important part of the letter begins ; 
and here, therefore, I read it to you word for word." 

He folded back the first page of the letter and read 
as follows : 

« * * * -^iij jQ^ jjgjp yg^ j^y ^Q^j, QiQiQY^ to realize 

our new project ? As English people, we wish to adopt 
an English child. This may be done, I believe, at the 
Eoundling : my husband's lawyers in London will tell 



obenreizeb's victory. 155 

you how. I leave the choice to you, with only these con- 
ditions attached to it — that the child is to be an infant 
under a year old, and is to be a boy. Will you pardon 
the trouble I am giving you, for my sake ; and will you 
bring our adopted child to us, with your own children, 
when you come to Neuchatel ? 

" I must add a word as to my husband's wishes in this 
matter. He is resolved to spare the child whom we make 
our own, any future mortification and loss of self-respect 
which might be caused by a discovery of his true origin. 
He will bear my husband's name, and he will be brought 
up in the belief that he is really our son. His inheritance 
of what we have to leave will be secured to him — not 
only according to the laws, of England in such cases, but ac- 
cording to the laws of Switzerland also ; for we have lived 
so long in this country, that there is a doubt whether we 
may not be considered as * domiciled ' in Switzerland. The 
one precaution left to take, is to prevent any after-discov- 
ery at the Foundling. Now, our name is a very uncom- 
mon one ; and if we appear on the register of the Institu- 
tution, as the persons adopting the child, there is just a 
chance that something might result from it. Your name, 
my dear, is the name of thousands of other people ; and 
if you will consent to appear on the Register, there need 
be no fear of any . discoveries in that quarter. We are 
moving, by the doctor's orders, to a part of Switzerland 
in which our circumstances are quite unknown ; and you, 
as I understand, are about to engage a new nurse for the 
journey when you come to see us. Under these circum- 
stances, the child may appear as my child, brought back 
to me under my sister's care. The only servant we take 
with us from our old home is my old maid, who can be 
safely trusted. As for the lawyers in England and in 
Switzerland, it is their profession to keep secrets — ^and 
we may feel quite easy in that direction. So there you h» 



v 



156 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

our harmless little conspiracy ! Write by return of post, 
my love, and tell me you will join it. * * 

" Do you still conceal the name of the writer of that 
letter ? " asked Vendale. 

" I keep the name of the writer till the last," answered 
Obenreizer, " and I proceed to my second proof — a mere 
slip of paper, this time, as you see. Memorandum given 
to the Swiss lawyer, who drew the documents referred to 
in the letter I have just read, expressed as follows : — 
* Adopted from the Foundling Hospital of England, 3rd 
March, 1836, a male infant, called, in the Institution, 
Walter Wilding. Person appearing on the register, as 
adopting the child, Mrs. Jane Ann Miller, widow, acting 
in this matter for her married sister, domiciled in Switz- 
erland ! ' Patience ! " resumed Obenreizer, as Vendale, 
breaking loose from Bintrey, started to his feet. " I shall 
not keep the name concealed much longer. Two more 
little slips of paper, and I have done. Third proof ! Cer- 
tificate of Doctor Ganz, still living in practice at Neuchatel, 
dated July, 1838. The doctor certifies (you shall read 
it for yourselves directly), first, that he attended the adop- 
ted child in its infant maladies ; second, that three months 
before the date of the certificate, the gentleman adopting 
the child as his son died ; third that on the date of the 
certificate, his widow and her maid, taking the adopted 
child with them, left Neuchatel on their return to Eng- 
land. One more link is now added to this, and my chain 
of evidence is complete. The maid remained with her 
mistress till her mistress's death, only a few years since. 
The maid can swear to the identity of the adopted infant, 
from his childhood to his youth — from his youth to his 
manhood, as he is now. There is her address in England/ 
— and there, ]Mi\ Vendale, is the fourth and final proof. 

" Why do you address yourself to me f " said Vendale, 
as Obenreizer threw the written address on the table. 



THE CURTAIN PALLS. 157 

Obenreizer turned on him, in a sudden frenzy of tri- 
umph. 

" Because you are the man ! If my niece marries you, 
she marries a bastard, brought up by public charity. If 
my niece marries you, she marries an impostor, without 
name or lineage, disguised in the character of a gentleman 
of rank and family.'* 

" Bravo 1 " cried Bintrey. " Admirably, put, Mr. Oben 
reizer ! It only wants one word more to complete it. 
She marries — thanks entirely to your exertions* — a man who 
inherits a handsome fortune, and a man whose origin will 
make him prouder than ever of his peasant-wife. George 
Vendale, as brother-executors, let us congratulate each 
other! Our dear dead friend's last wish on earth is 
accomplished. We have found the lost Walter Wilding. 
As Mr. Obenreizer said just now — ^you are the man ! " 
' The words passed by Vendale unheeded. For the 
moment he was conscious of but one sensation ; he heard 
but one voice. Marguerite's hand was clasping his. 
Marguerite's voice was whispering to him : " I never loved 
you, George, as I love you now ! " 

THE CURTAIN FALLS. 

May-Day. There is merry-making in Cripple Corner, 
the chimneys smoke, the patriarchal dining-hall is hung 
with garlands, and Mrs. Goldstraw, the respected house- 
keeper, is very busy. For, on this bright morning, the 
young master of Cripple Corner is married to its young 
mistress, far away : to wit, in the little town of Brieg, in 
Switzerland, lying at the foot of the Simplon Pass where 
she saved his life. 

The bells ring gaily in the little town of Brieg, and 
flaors are stretched across the street, and rifle shots are 
heard, and sounding music from brass instruments. 



158 NO THOROUGHFARE. 

Streamer-decorated casks of wine have been rolled out 
under a gay awning in the public way before the Inn, 
and there will be free feasting and revelry. What with 
bells and banners, draperies hanging from windows, ex- 
plosion of gunpowder, and reverberation of brass music, 
the little town of Brieg is all in a flutter, like the hearts 
of its simple people. 

It was a stormy night last night, and the mountains are 
covered with snow. But the sun is bright to-day, the 
sweet air is fresh, the tin spires of the little town of 
Brieg are burnished silver, and the Alps are ranges of 
far-off white cloud in a deep blue sky. 

The primitive people of the, little town of Brieg have 
built a greenwood arch across the street, under which the 
newly married pair shall pass in triumph from the church. 
It is inscribed on that side, " Honor and Love to 
Marguerite Vend ale ! " for the people are proud of 
her to enthusiasm. This greeting of the bride under her 
new name is affectionately meant as a surprise, and there- 
fore the arrangement has been made that she, unconscious 
why, shall be taken to the Church by a tortuous back 
way. A scheme not difficult to carry into execution in 
the crooked little town of Brieg. 

So all things in readiness, and they are to go and come 
on foot. Assembled in the Inn's best chamber, festively 
adorned, are the bride and bridegroom, the Neuchatel 
notary, the London lawyer, Madame Dor, and a certain 
large mysterious Englishman popularly know as Monsieur 
Zhoe-Ladelle. And behold Madame Dor, arrayed in a 
spotless pair of gloves of her own, with no hand in the 
air, but both hands clasped round the neck of the bride ; 
to embrace whom Madame Dor has turned her broad 
back on the company, consistent to the last. 

* ' Forgive me, my beautiful," pleads Madame Dor, " for 
that I ever was ^«» ^ha^v^ 1 " 



THE CURTAIN PALLS. 159 

" She-cat, Madame Dor ? " 

" Engaged to sit watching my so charming mouse," are 
the explanatory words of Madame Dor, delivered with a 
penitential sob. 

" Why, you were our best friend ! George, dearest, 
tell Madame Dor. Was she not our best friend ? " 

"Undoubtedly, darling. What should we have done 
without her?" 

"You are both so generous," cries Madame Dor, ac- 
cepting consolation, und immediately relapsing. " But I 
conunenced as a she-cat." 

" Ah I But like the cat in the fairy-story, good Mad- 
ame Dor," said Vendale, saluting her cheek, " you were 
a true woman. And, being a true woman, the sympathy 
of your heart was with true love." 

" I don't wish to deprive Madame Dor of her share in 
the embraces that are going on," Mr. Bin trey puts in, 
watch in hand, " and I don't presume to offer any objec- 
tion to your having got yourself mixed together, in the 
corner there, like the three Graces. I merely remark 
that I think it's time we were moving. What are your 
sentiments on that subject, IMr. Ladle ? " 

" Clear, sir," replies Joey, with a gracious grin. " I'm 
clearer altogether, sir, for having lived so many weeks 
upon the surface. I never was half so long upon the 
surface, afore, and it's done me a power of good. At 
Cripple Corner, I was too much below it. A top of the 
Simpleton, I was a deal too high above it. I've found 
the medium here, sir. And if ever I take it in convivial, 
in aU the rest of my days, I mean to do it this day, to 
the toast of * Bless 'em both.' '* 

" I too ! " says Bintrey. " And now, Monsieur Voigt, 

let you and me be two men of Marseilles, and aliens, 

marchons, arm-m-arm ! " 

They go down to the door, where others are waiting 

7* 



THE CURTAIN FALLS. 161 

But, monsieur, as to Madame. We have brought him 
here on the litter, to be buried. We must ascend the 
street outside. Madame must not see. It would be an 
accursed thing to bring the litter through the arch across 
the street, until Madame has passed through. As you 
descend, we who accompany the litter will set it down on 
the stones of the street the second to the right, and will 
stand before it. But do not let Madame turn her head 
towards the street the second to the right. There is no 
time to lose. Madame will be alarmed by your absence. 
Adieu ! " 

Vendale returns -to his bride, and draws her hand 
through his unmaimed arm. A pretty procession awaits 
them at the main door of the church. They take their 
station in it, and descend the street amidst the ringing of 
the bells, the firing of the guns, the waving of the flags, 
the playing of the music, the shouts, the smiles, and 
tears, of the excited town. Heads are uncovered as she 
passes, hands are kissed to her, all the people bless her. 
" Heaven's benediction on the dear girl ! See where she 
goes in her youth and beauty ; she who so nobly saved 
his life ! " 

Near the corner of the street the second to the right, 
he speaks to her, and calls her attention to the windows 
on the opposite side. The corner well passed, he says : 
" Do not look round, my darling, for a reason that I have," 
and turns his head. Then, looking back along the street, 
he sees the litter and its bearers passing up alone under 
the arch, as he and she and their marriage train go down 
towards the shining valley. 



THE END. 



t. ' 



I 

J 



THE LAZY TOUR 



OF 



TWO IDLE APPEENTICES 



BY 

CHARLES DICKENS. 



BOSTON 
WILLIAM F. GILL & COMPANY 

300 WASHINGTON STREET 
1876. 



THE LAZY TOUR OF TWO IDLE 

APPRENTICES. 



CHAPTER THE FIRST. 

IN the autumn month of September, eighteen hundred 
and fifty-seven, wherein these presents bear date, two 
idle apprentices, exhausted by the long hot summer and 
the long hot work it had brought with it, ran away from 
their employer. They were bound to a highly merito- 
rious lady (named Litierature), of fair credit and repute, 
though, it must be acknowledged, not quite so highly es- 
teemed in the City as she might be. This is the more 
remarkable as there is nothing against the respectable lady 
in that quarter, but quite the contrary ; her family having 
rendered eminent service to many famous citizens of 
London. It may be sufficient to name Sir William 
Walworth, Lord Mayor under King Richard the Second, 
at the time of Wat Tyler's insurrection, and Sir Richard 
Whittington ; which latter distinguished man and magistrate 
was doubtless indebted to the lady's family for the gift of 
his celebrated cat. There is also strong reason to suppose 
that they rang the Highgate bells for him with their own 
hands. 

The misguided young men who thus shirked their 
duty to the mistress from whom they had received many 
favors, were actuated by the low idea of making a perfectly 
idle trip, in any direction. They had no intention, of go- 
ing anywhere, in particular ; they wanted to see nothing, 
they wanted to know nothing, they wanted to learn nothing, 



166 -■ THE LAZY TOUR OF 

they wanted to do nothing. They wanted only to be idle. 
They took to themselves (after Hogarth) the names of Mr. 
Thomas Idle and Mr. Francis Goodchild ; but there was 
not a moral pin to choose between them, and they were 
idle in the last degree. 

Between Francis and Thomas, however, there was this 
) difference of character ; Goodchild was laboriously idle, 
and would take upon himself any amount of pains and 
labor to assure himself that he was idle ; in short, had no 
better idea of idleness than that it was useless indus- 
try. Thomas Idle, on the other hand, was an idler of 
the unmixed Irish or Neapolitan type ; a passive idler, 
a born and bred idler, a consistent idler, who practised 
what he would have preached if he had not been too idle 
' to preach ; a one entire and perfect chrysolite of idleness. 

The two idle apprenticed found themselves, within a 
few hours of their escape, walking down into the North 
of England. That is to say, Thomas was lying in a 
meadow, looking at the railway trains as they passed over 
a distant viaduct — which was his idea of walking down 
into the North ; while Francis was walking a mile due 
South against time — which was his idea of walking down 
into the North. In the mean time the day waned, and 
the mile-stones remained unconquered. 

" Tom," said Goodchild, " the sun is getting low. Up, 
and let us go forward 1" 

" Nay,"quoth Thomas Idle, " I have not done with Annie 
Laurie yet." And he proceeded with that idle but popu- 
lar ballad, to the effect that for the bonnie young person 
of that name he would "lay him doon and dee,"— equiva- 
lent, in prose, to lay him down and die. 

" What an ass that fellow was !" cried Goodchild, with 
the bitter emphasis of contempt. 

" Which fellow ? " asked Thomas Idle. 



I f 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 167 

" The fellow in your song. Lay him doon and dee I 
Finely he*d show off before the girl by doing ihaL A 
Sniveller Why couldn't he get up, and punch somebody's 
head ! " 
• " Whose ?" asked Thomas Idle. 

" Anybody's. Everybody's would be better than no- 
body's ! If I fell into that state of mind about a girl, do 
yoa thhik I'd lay me doon and dee ? No, Sir ; " proceed- 
_^od Goodchild, with a disparaging assumption of the Scot- 
/ j tish accent, " I'd get me oop and peetch into sonxebody. 
I Wouldn't you ?" 

{ " I wouldn't have anything to do with her," yawned 
I Tliomas Idle. '* Why should I take the trouble ?" 

" It's no trouble, Tom, to fall in love," said Goodchild, 
shakin<; his head. 

"•It's trouble enough to fall out of it, once you're in it," 
retorted Tom. ** So I keep out of it altogether. It 
would be better for you, if you did the same." 

Mr. Goodchild, who is always in love with somebody, 

and not unfrequently with several objects at once, made 

no reply. He heaved a sigh of the kind which is termed 

jby the lower orders " a bellowser," and then, heaving Mr. 

.; Idle on his feet (who was not half so heavy as the sigh), 

/ 1 m'ii^ed him northward. 

These two had sent their personal baggage on by train ; 
only retaining each a knapsack. Idle now applied him- 
self to constantly regretting the train, to tracking it through 
I the intricacies of Bradshaw's Guide, and finding out where 
it was now — and where now — and where now — and to ask- 
ing what was the use of walking when you could ride at 
1 such a pace as that. Was it to see the country? If 
that was the object, look at it out of carriage windows. 
There was a great deal more of it to be seen there, than 
here. Besides, who wanted to see the country ? Nobody. 

And, again, who ever did walk ? Nobody. Fellows set 

8 



\ 



168 TIIK LAZY TOUR 05" 

off to walk, but they iiovor did it. They came back and 
said they did, but they didu't. Then why should he 
walk? lie wouldn't walk. He swore it by this nule- 
stone ! 

It was the fifth from London, so far had they penetrar 
ted into the North. Submitting to the powerful chain 
of argument, Goodchild proposed a return to the Metrop- 
olis and a falling back upon Euston Square Terminus. 
Thomas assented with alacrity, and so they walked down 
into the North by the next morning's express, and carried 
their knaj^sacks in the luggage-van. 

It was like all other expresses, as every express is and 
must be. It bore through the harvested country a smell 
like a large washing-day, and a sharp issue of steam as 
from a huge brazen tea-urn. The greatest power nature 
and art combined, it yet glided over dangerous heights in 
the sight of people looking up from fields and roads, as 
smootldy and unreally as a light miniature plaything. 
Now, the engine shrieked in hysterics of such intensity, 
that it seemed desirable that the men who had her in 
charge should hold her feet, slap her hands, and bring 
her to ; now, burrowed into tunnels with a stubborn 
and undemonstrative energy so confusing that the train 
seemed to be flying back into leagues of darkness. Here 
were station after station, swallowed up by the express 
without stopi)ing; here stations where it fired itself 
in like a volley of cannon-balls, swooped away four 
country-people with nosegays and three men of business 
with portmanteaus, and fired itself off again, bang, bang, 
bang ! At long intervals were uncomfortable refreshment 
rooms, made more uncomfortable by the scorn of Beauty 
toward Beast, the public (but to whom she never relented 
as Beauty did in the story, toward the other Beast), 
and where sensitive stomachs were fed, with a contempt 
uous sharpness occasioning indigestion. Here, again, were 



TWO IDLE APPEENTICE8. 169 

stations with nothing going but a bell, and wonderful 
wooden razors set aloft on great posts, shaving the air. 
In these fields, the horses, sheep, and cattle were well used 
to the thundering meteor, and didn't mind ; in those, they 
were all set scampering together, and a herd of pigs 
scoured after them. The pastoral country darkened, be- 
came coaly, became smoky, became infernal, got better, got 
worse; improved again, grew rugged, turned romantic; 
was a wood, a stream, a chain of hills, a gorge, a moor, a 
cathedral town, a fortified place, a waste. Now, miserable 
black dwellings, a black canal, and sick black towers of 
chimneys ; now, a trim garden, where the flowers were 
bright and fair ; now, a wilderness of hideous altars all 
ablaze ; now, the water meadows with their fairy rings ; 
now, the mangy patch of unlet building ground outside 
the stagnant town, with the larger ring where the Circus 
was last week. The temperature changed, the dialect 
changed, the people changed, faces got sharper, manner 
got shorter, eyes got shrewder and harder, yet all so 
quickly, that the spruce guard in the London uniform and 
silver lace had not yet rumpled his shirt-collar, delivered 
half the despatches in his shining little pouch, or read his 
newspaper. 

Carlisle ! Idle and Goodchild had got to Carlisle. It 
looked congenially and delightfully idle. Something in 
the way of public amusement had happened last month, 
and something else was going to happen before Christmas ; 
and, in the mean time, there was a lecture on India for 
those who liked it, which Idle and Goodchild did not. 
Likewise, by those who liked them, there were impres- 
sions to be bought of all the vapid prints, going and gone, 
and of nearly all the vapid books. For those who wanted 
to put anything in missionary boxes, here were the boxes. 
For those who wanted the Reverend IVIr. Podgers (artists, 
proofs, thirty shillings), here was Mr. Podgers to any 



170 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

amount. Not less gracious and abundant, Mr. Codgers, 
also of the vineyard, but opjwsed to Mr. Podgers, broth- 
erly tooth and nail. Here, were guide books ta the 
neigliboFing antiquities, and eke the Lake country, in 
several dry and husky sorts ; here, many physically and 
morally impossible heads of both sexes, for young ladies 
to copy, in the exercise of the art of drawing" ; here, 
further, a large impression of Mr. Spurgeon, solid as to 
the flesh, not to say even something gross. The working 
young men of Carlisle were drawn up, with their handis 
in their pockets, across the pavements, four and six abreast 
' and appeared (much to the satisfaction of Mr. Idle) to 
have nothing else to do. The working and growing young 
women of Carlisle, from the age of twelve upward, pro- 
menaded the streets in the cool of the evening, and rallied 
the said young men. Sometimes the young men rallied 
the young women, as in the case of a group gathered 
around an accordion-player, from among whom a young 
man advanced behind a young woman for whom he ap- 
peared to have a tenderness, and hinted to her that he was 
there and playful, by giving her (he wore clogs) a kick. 
On market morning, Carlisle woke up amazingly, and 
became (to the two Idle Apprentices) disagreeably and 
reproachfully busy. There were its cattle market, its sheep 
market, and its pig market down by the river, with raw- 
boned and skock-headed Rob Roys hiding their Lowland9 
dresses beneath heavy plaids, j^rowling in and out among 
the animals, and flavoring the air with fumes of whisky. 
There was its corn market down the main street, with hum 
of chaffering over open sacks. Tliere was its general 
market in the street, too, with heather brooms on which 
the purple flower still flourished, and heather baskets, 
primitive and fresh to behold. With women trying on clogs 
and caps at open stalls, and " Bible stalls " adjoining. With 
" Doctor Mantle's Dispensary for the cure of Human Malar 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 171 

dies and no chaxge for advice," and with Doctor Mantle's 
" Laboratory of Medical, Chemical, and Botanical Science' 
— ^both healingd, institutions established on one pair of 
trestles, one boar and one sun-blind. With the renowned 
phrenologist from London begging to be favored (at six- 
pence each) with the company of clients of both sexes, to 
whom, on examination of their heads, he would make reve- 
lations " enabling him or her to know themselves." 
Though all these bargains and blessings the recruiting- 
sergeant watchfully elbowed his way, a thread of War in 
the peaceful skein. Likewise on the walls were printed 
hints that the Oxford Blues might not be indisposed to 
hear of a few fine active young men ; and that whereas the 
standard of that distinguished corps is full six feet, " grow- 
ing lads of five feet eleven " need not absolutely despair 
of being accepted. 

Scenting the morning air more pleasantly then the buried 
majesty of Denmark did, Messrs. Idle and Groodcliild rode 
away fi'om Carlisle at eight o'clock one forenoon, bound 
for the village of Ilesket-Newmarket, some fourteen mile 
■distant. Goodcliild (who had already begun to doubts 
.whether he was idle, as his way always is when he has noth- 
jing to do) had read of a certain black old Cumberland hill or 
'mountain, called Carrock, or Carrock Fell ; and had arrived 
, ai the conclusion that it would be the culminating triumph 
' of Idle-ness to ascend the same. Thomas Idle, dwelling 
on the pains inseparable from that achievement, had ex- 
pressed the strongest doubts of the expediency, and even of 
the sanity, of the enterprise ; but Goodchild had carried his 
point and they rode away. 

Up hill and down hill, and twisting to the right, and 
twisting to the left, and with old Skiddaw (who has vaunted 
himself a great deal more than his merits deserve ; but 
that is rather the way of the Lake country) dodging the 
Apprentices in a picturesque and pleasant manner. Good 



172 THE LAZY TOUR OF 

weather proof, warm, peasant houses, well white-limed, 
scantily dotting the road. Clean children coming out to 
look, carrying other clean children as big as themselves. 
Harvest still lying out and much rained upon ; here and 
there, harvest still un reaped, Well-cultivated gardens at- 
tached to the cottages, with plenty of produce forced out 
of tlu^ir hard soil. Lonely nooks, and wild ; but people 
can be born, and married, and hurried in such nooks, and 
can live and love, and be loved, there as elsewhere^ thank 
God ! (Mr Goodchild's remark.) By-and-by the village. 
Black, coarse-stoned, rough-windowed houses ; some with 
outer staircases, like Swiss houses ; a sinuous and stony 
gutter winding up hill and round the corner by way of 
street. All the children running out directly. Women 
pausing in washing to peep from doorways and very- 
little windows. Such were the observations of Messrs. 
Idle and Goodchild, as their conveyance stopped at 
the village shoemaker's. Old Carrock gloomed down 
upon it all in a very ill-tempered state, and rain was be- 
ginning. 

The village shoemaker declined to have anything to do 
with Carrock. No visitors went up Carrock. No visitors 
came there at all. Aa* the world ganged awa* yon. The 
driver appealed to the Innkeeper. The Innkeej^er had two 
men working in the fields, and one of them should be 
called in, to go up Carrock as guide. Messrs. Idle and 
Goodchild, highly approving, entered the Innkeeper's 
house, to drink whiskey and eat oat-cake. 

The In keeper was not idle enough — was not idle at all, 
which was a great fault in him — but was a fine specimen 
of a north-countryman, or any kind of man. lie had a 
ruddy cheek, a bright eye, a well-knit frame, an immense 
hand, a cheery out-speaking voice, and a straight, bright, 
broad look. He had a drawing-room, too, up stairs, 
which was worth a visit to the Cumberland Fells. (This 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 173 

was Mr. Francis GoodchilcVs opinion, in which Mr. 
Thomas Idle did not concur.) 

The ceiling of this -drawing-room was so crossed and 
recrossed by beams of unequal length, radiating from a 
centre in a corner, that it looked like a broken star fish. 
The room was comfortably and solidly furnished with 
good mahogany and horsehair. It had a snug fireside, and 
couple of well-curtained windows, looking out upon the 
wild country behind the house. What it most developed 
was an unexpected taste for little ornaments and nick- 
nacks, of which it contained a most surprising number. 
They were not very various, consisting in great part of 
waxen babies with their limbs more or less mutilated, aj)- 

pealing on one leg to the parental affections from under 
little cupping-glasses ; but Uncle Tom was there, in 
crockery, receiving theological instructions from Miss 
Eva, who grew out of his side like a wen, in an exceed- 
ingly rough state of profile propagandism. Engravings 
of Mr, Plunt's country boy, before and after his pie, were 
on the wall, divided by a highly-colored nautical piece, 
the subject of which had all her colors (and more) flying, 
and was making a great way through a sea of a regular 
pattern, like a lady's collar. A benevolent elderly gentle- 
» man of the last century, with a i)owdered head, kept guard, 
in oil and varnish, over a most perjilexing piece of furni- 
ture on a table, in appearance between a driving-seat and 
angular knife box, but, when opened, a musical instrument 
of tinkling wires, exactly like David's harp packed for 
travelling. Everything became a nicknack in this curious 
room. The copper tea-kettle, burnished up to the high- 
est jDoint of glory, took his station on a stand of his own 
greatest possible distance from the firei)lace, and said, 
" By your leave, not a kettle, but a bijou." The Stafford- 
shire-ware butter-dish with the cover on, ^ot uj^on a little 
round occasional table in a window, with a worked top, 



■r^ 



174 THE LAZY TOUR OF 

and announced itself to the two chairs accidentally plaoed 
there, as an aid to polite conversation, a graceful trifle in 
china to be chatted over by callers, as they airily trifled 
away the visiting moments of a butterfly existence, in that 
rugged old village on the Cumberland Fells. The very- 
foot stool could not keep the floor, but got upon the sofa, 
and therefrom proclaimed itself, in high relief of white 
and liver-colored wool, a favorite spaniel coiled up for 
repose. Though, truly, in spite of its bright glass eyes, 
the spaniel was the least successful assumption in the col- 
lection, being perfectly flat, and dismally suggestive of a 
recent mistake in sitting down on the part of some cor- 
pulent member of the family. 

TJiere were books, too, in this room ; books on the table, 
books on the chimney-piece, books in an open press in the 
corner. Fielding was there, and Smollet was there, and 
Steele and Addison were there, in dispersed volumes ; and 
there were tales of those who went down to the sea in 
ships, for windy nights ; and there was really a choice of 
good books for rainy days or fine. It was so very pleasant 
to see these things in such a lonesome by-place — so very 
agreeable to find these evidences of a taste, however home- 
ly, that went beyond the beautiful cleanliness and trimriess 
of the house — ^so fanciful to imagine what a wonder the 
room must be to the little children born in the gloomy vil- 
lage — what grand impressions of it those of them who 
became wanderers over the earth would carry away ; and 
how, at distant ends of the world, some old voyagers 
would die, cherishing the belief that the finest apartment 
known to men was once in the Ilesket-Newmarket Inn, 
in rare old Cumberland — it was such a charmingly lazy 
pursuit to entertain these rambling thoughts over the choice 
oat-cake and the genial whisky, that Mr. Idle and JMr. 
Goodchild never asked themselves how it came to pass 
that the men in the fields were never heard of more, how 



TWO IDLE ap:pbentices. 175 

the stalwart landlord replaced them without explanation, 
how his dog-cart came to be waiting at the door, and how 
every' thing was arranged without the least arrangement, 
for climbing to old Carrock's shoulders, and standing on 
his head. 

Without a word of inquiry, therefore, The Two Idle 
Apprentices drifted out resignedly into a fine, soft, close, 
drowsy, penetrating rain ; got into the landlord's light dog' 
cart, and rattled off, through the village, for the foot of 
Carrock. The journey at the outset was not remarkable. 
The Cumberland road went up and down like other roads ; 
the Cumberland curs burst out from backs of cottages and 
barked like other curs, and the Cumberland peasantry star- 
ed after the dog-cart amazedly, as long as it was in sight, 
like the res-t of their race. The approach to the foot of 
the mountain resembled the approaches to the feet of most 
other mountains all over the world. The cultivation 
gradually ceased, the trees grew gradually rare, the road be 
came gradually rougher, andthe sides of the mountain looked 
gradually more and more lofty, and more and more diffi- 
cult to get up. The dog-cart was left at a lonely farmhouse. 
The landlord borrowed a large umbrella, and, assuming in 
an instant the character of the most cheerful and adven- 
( turous of guides, led the way to the ascent. Mr. Goodchild 
; looked eagerly at the top of the mountain, and feeling ap- 
; parently that he was now going to be very lazy indeed, 
shone all over wonderfully to the eye, under the influence of 
the contentment within and moisture without. Only in the 
bosom of Mr. Thomas Idle did Despondency now hold her 
I gloomy state. He kept it a secret ; but he would have 
j given a very handsome sum, when the ascent began, to 
'have been back again at the inn. The sides of Carrock 
jlookod fearfully steep, and the top of Carrock was hidden 
■in mist. The rain was falling faster and faster. The 
.knees of Mr. Idle — always weak on walking excursions 



176 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

— shivered aud shook with fear and damp. The wet was 
already penetrating through the young man's outer coat 
to a bran new shoo ting- jacket, for which he had reluctantly 
paid the large sum of two guineas on leaving town ; lie 
had no stimulating refreshment about him but a small 
packet of clammy gingerbread nuts ; he had nobody to 
give him an arm, nobody to push him gently behind, nobody 
to pull him up tenderly in front, nobody to speak to who 
really felt the difficulties of the ascent, the dampness of 
the rain, the denseness of the mist, and the unutterable 
folly of climbing, undriven, up any steep place in the 

(world, when there is a level ground within reach to halt on 
instead. Was it for this that Thomas had left London ? Lon- 
don, where there are nice short walks in level public gardens, 
with benches of repose set up at convenient distances for 
weary travellers — London,where rugged stone is humanely 
pounded into little lumps for the road and intelligently shap- 
ed into smooth slabs for the pavement ! No ! it was not for 
the laborious ascent of the crags of Carrock that Idle had 
left his native city and traveled to Cumberland. Nevcj- did 
he feel more disastrously convinced that he had comniittod 
a very grave error in judgment than when he found himself 
standing in the rain at the bottom of a steep mountain, 
and knew that the responsibility rested on his weak shoul- 
ders of actually getting to the top of it. 

The honest landlord went first, the l)eaming Goodchild 
followed, the rnournful Idle brought up the rear. From 
time to time, the two foremost members of the expedition 
changed places in the order of march ; but the rear-guard 

. never altered his position. Up the mountain or down the 
mountain, in the water or out of it, over the rocks, through 
the bogs, skirting the heather, Mr. Thomas Idle was always 
the last, and was always the man who. had to be looked 

. after and waited for. At first, the ascent was delusively 
easy : the sides of the mountain sloped gradually, and 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 177 

the material of which they were composed Vas a soft spongy 
turf, very tender and pleasaat to walk upon. After a 
hundred yards or so, however, the verdant scene and the 
easy slope disappeared, and the rocks began. Not noble 
massive rocks, standing upright, keeping a certain regu- 
larity in their jDOsitions, and possessing, now and then, flat 
tops to sit upon, but little, irritating, comfortless rocks, 
littered about anyhow by nature ; treacherous, dishearten- 
ing rocks of all sorts of small shapes and small sizes, bruis- 
ers of tender toes and trippers-up of wavering feet. When 
these impediments were passed, heather and slough fol- 
lowed. Here the steepness of the ascent was slightly 
mitigated ; and here the exploring party of three turned 
round to look at the view below them. The scene of the 
moorland and the fields were like a feeble water-color 
drawing half-sponged out. The mist was darkening, the 
rain was thickening, the trees were dotted about like spots 
of faint shadow, the division-lines which mapped out the 
fields were all getting blurred together, and the lonely farm- 
house, where the dog-cart had been .left, loomed spectral 
in the gray light, like the last human dwelling at the end 

' of the habitable world. Was this a sight worth climbing 

i to see ? Surely — surely not ! 

Up again, for the top of Carrock is not reached yet. 
The landlord, just as good-tempered and obliging as her 

i was at the bottom of the mountain ; Mr. Goodchild, brighter 
in the eyes and rosier in the face than ever, full of cheer- 
ful remarks and apt quotations, and walking with aspring- 

, iness of step wonderful to behold ; Mr. Idle, farther and 

* farther in the rear, with the water squeaking in the toes 
of his boots, and his two-guinea shooting-jacket clinging 
damply to his aching sides, with his overcoat so full of rain 

. and standing out so pyramidically stiff in consequence 
from his shoulders downward, that he felt as if he was 

^ walking in a gigantic extinguisher — the despairing spirit 



178 THE LAZY TOUB OF 

within him representing but too aptly the candle that had 
just been put out. Up and up, and up again, till a ridge 
is reached, and the outer edge of the mist on the summit 
of Carrock is darkly and drizzlingly neh,r. Is this the 
top ? No, nothing like the top. It is an aggravating pe- 
culiarity of all mountains that, although they have only 
: one top when they are seen (as they ought always to be 
' seen) from below, they turn out to have a perfect eruption 
: of false tops whenever the traveller is sufficiently ill-advis- 
I ed to go out of his way for the purpose of ascending them. 
Carrock is but a trumpery little mountain of fifteen hun- 
dred feet, and it presumes to have false tops, and even pre- 
cipices, as if it was Mount Blanc. No matter ; Goodchild 
i enjoys it, and will go on ; and Idle, who is afraid to bo 
; left behind by himself, must follow. On entering the edge 
of the mist, the landlord stops, and says that he hopes it will 
not get any thicker. It is twenty years since he last ascend- 
/ed Carrock, and it is barely possible, if the mist increases, 
that the party may be lost on the mountain. Goodchild 
: hears *this dreadful intimation, and is not in the least im- 
pressed by it. He marches for the top that is never to be 
found, as if he was the Wandering Jew, bound to go on 
forever, in defiance of everything. The landlord faith- 
fully accompanies him. The two, to the dim eye of Idle, 
far below, look, in the exaggerative mist, like a pair of 
friendly giants mounting the steps of some invisible castle 
together. Up and up, and then down a little, and then 
up, and then along a strip of level ground, and then up 
again. The wind — a wind unknown in the happy valley 
— blows keen and strong ; the rain mist gets imi)onetral)le ; 
a dreary little cairn of stones appears. The landlord adds 
one to the heap, first walking all round the cairn, as if he 
were about to perform an incantation, tlum dropping the 
stone on to the top of the heap, with the gesture of a 
magician adding an ingredient to a caldron in full bul)ble. 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 179 

Groodchild sits down by the cairn, as if it was his study-table 

at home ; Idle, drenched and panting, stands up with his 

back to the wind, ascertains distinctly that this is the top 

'at last, looks round with all the little curiosity that is left 

^in him, and gets in return a magnificent view of — Nothing ! 

The effect of this sublime spectacle on the minds of the 
exploring party is a little injured by the nature of the di- 
rect conclusion to which the sight of it points — the said 
conclusion being that the mountain mist has actually gath- 
ered round them as the landlord feared it would. It now 
becomes imperatively ^ necessary to settle the exact situa- 
tion of the farm-house in the valley at which the dog-cart 
has been left, before the travelers attempt to descend. 
While the landlord is endeavoring to make this discovery 
in his own way, Mr. Goodchild plunges his hand under his 
wet coat, draws out a little red morocco case, opens it, and 
displays to the view of his companions a new pocket- 
compass. The north is found, the point at which the farm- 
house is situated is settled, and the descent begins. After 
a little downward walking, Idle (behind, as usual) sees 
his fellow-travelers turn aside sharjjly — tries to follow 
them — loses them in the mist — is shouted after, waited 
for, recovered — and then finds that a halt has been order- 
ed, partly on his account, partly for the purpose of again 
consulting the compass. 

The point in debdte is settled, as before, between Good- 
child and the landlord, and the expedition moves on, not 
down the mountain, but marching straight forward round 
the slope of it. The difficulty of following this new route 
is acutely felt by Thomas Idle. He finds the hardship of 
walking at all greatly increased by the fatigue of moving 
his feet straight forward along the side of a slope, when 
their natural tendency, at every step, is to turn off at a 
right-angle, and go straight down the declivity. Let the 
reader imagine himself to be walking along the roof of a 



180 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

bam, instead of up or down it, and he will have an exact 
idea of the pedestrian difficulty in which the travellers had 
now involved themselves. In ten minutes more Idle was 
lost in the distance again, was shouted for, waited for, re- 
covered as before ; found Goodchild repeating his obser- 
vation of the compass, and remonstrated warmly against 
the sideway route that his companions persisted in follow- 
ing. It appeared to the uninstructed mind of Thomas, 
that when three men wanted to get to the bottom of a 
mountain, their business is to walk down it ; and he put 
j this view of the case, not only with emphasis, but even 
! with some irritability. He was answered, from the scien- 
tific eminence of the compass on which his companions 
were mounted, that there was a frightful chasm some- 
where near the foot of Carrock, called The Black Arches, 
into which the travelers were sure to march in the mist, 
if they risked continuing the descent from the place where 
they had now halted. Idle received this answer with the 
silent respect which was due to the commanders of the 
expedition, and followed along the roof of the barn, or 
rather the side of the mountain, reflecting upon the assur- 
ance which he re(5eived on starting again, that the object 
of the party was only to gain " a certain point," and, this 
haven attained, to continue the descent afterward until 
the foot of Carrock was reached. Though quite unexcep- 
tionable, as an abstract form of expression, the jilirase " a 
certain point" has the disadvantage of sounding rather 
vaguely when it is pronounced on unknown ground, un- 
der a canopy of mist much thicker than a London fog. 
Nevertheless, after the compass, this phrase was all the 
clue the party had to hold by, and Idle clung to the ex- 
treme end of it as hopefully as he could. 

More sideway walking, thicker and thicker mist, all 
sorts of points reached except the " certain point ; " third 
loss of Idle, third shouts for him, third recovery of him, 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 181 

third consultation of compass. Mr. Goodchild draws it 
tenderly from his pocket, and prepares to adjust it on a 
stone. Something falls on the turf — it is the glass. Some- 
thing else drops immediately after — it is the needle. The 
compass is broken, and the exploring party is lost ! 

It is the practice of the English portion of the human 
race to receive all great disasters in dead silence. Mr. 
Goodchild restored the useless compass to his pocket with- 
out saying a word ; Mr. Idle looked at the landlord, and 
the landlord looked at Mr. Idle. There was nothing for 
it now but to go on blindfold, and trust to the chapter of 
chances. Accordingly, the lost travelers moved forward, 
still walking round the slope of the mountain, still des- 
perately resolved to avoid the Black Arches, and to suo- 
ceed in reaching the " certain point." 

A quarter of an hour brought them to the brink of a 
ravine, at the bottom of which there flowed a muddy littlfe 
stream. Here another halt was called, and another con- 
sultation took place. The landlord, still clinging pertina- 
ciously to the idea of reaching the " point," voted for 
crossing the ravine and going on round the slope of the 
mountain. Mr. Goodchild, to the great relief of his fellow- 
traveller, took another view of the case, and backed Mr. 
Idle's proposal to descend Carrock at once, at any hazard 
— the rather as the running stream was a sure guide to 
follow from the mountain to the valley. Accordingly, 
the party descended to the nigged and stony banks of the 
stream ; and here, again, Thomas lost ground sadly, and 
fell far behind his traveling companions. Not much more 
than six weeks had elapsed, since he had sprained one of 
his ankles, and he began to feel this same ankle getting 
rather weak when he found himself among the stones that 
were strewn about the running water. Goodchild and the 
landlord were getting farther and farther ahead of him. 
He saw them cross the stream and disappear round a 



182 THE LAZY TOUB OP 

projection on its banks. He heard them shont the mo- 
ment after, as a signal that they had halted and were 
waiting for him. Answering the shout, he mended his 
pace, crossed the stream where they had crossed it, and was 
within one step of the opposite bank, when his foot slip- 
ped on a wet stone, his weak ankle gave a twist outward, 
a hot, rending, tearing pain ran through it at the same 
moment, and down fell the idlest of the Two Idle Appren- 
tices, crippled m an instant.^ 

The situation was now, in plain terms, one of absolute 
danger. There lay Mr. Idle writhing with pain ; there 
was the mist as thick as ever ; there was the landlord as 
completely lost as the strangers whom he was conducting ;. 
and there was the compass broken in Goodchild's pocket. 
To leave the wretched Thomas on unknown ground, was 
plainly impossible ; and to get him to walk with a badly 
sprained ankle seemed equally out of the question. How- 
ever, Groodchild (brought back by his cry for help) band- 
aged the ankle with a pocket-handkerchief and, assisted by 
the landlord, raised the cripple Apprentice to his legs, 
offered him a shoulder to lean on, and exhorted him, for 
the sake of the whole party, to try if he could walk. 
Thomas, assisted by the shoulder on one side and a stick 
on the other, did try, with what pain and difficulty, those 
only can imagine who have sprained an ankle and have 
had to tread on it afterward. At a pace adapted to the 
feeble hobbling of a newly-lamed man, the lost party 
moved on, perfectly ignorant whether they were on the 
right side of the mountain or the wrong, and equidly un- 
certain how long Idle would be able to contend with the 
pain in his ankle, before he gave in altogether and fell 
down again, unable to stir another step. 

Slowly and more slowly, as the clog of crippled Thomas 
weighed heavily and more heavily on the march of the 
expedition, the lost travelers followed the windings of the 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 183 

stream, till they came to a faintly-marked cart-track, 
branching off nearly at right angles to the left. After a lit- 
tle consultation, it was resolved to follow this dim vestige 
of a road in the hope that it might lead to some farm or 
cottage, at which Idle could be left in safety. It was 
now getting on toward the afternoon, and it was fast 
becoming doubtful whether the party, delayed in their 
progress as they now were, might not be overtaken by 
the darkness before the right route was found, and be 
condemned to pass the night on the mountain, without bit 
or drop to comfort them, in their wet clothes. 

The cart-track grew fainter ahd fainter, until it was 
washed out altogether by another little stream, dark, tur- 
bulent, and rapid. The landlord suggested, judging by 
the color of the wat^r, that it must be flowing from one of 
the lead mines in the neighborhood of Carrock ; and the 
travelers, accordingly, kept by the stream for a little while 
in the hope of possibly wandering toward help in that 
way. After walking forward about two hundred yards, 
they came upon a mine indeed, but a mine exhausted and 
abandoned — a dismal, ruinous place, with nothing but the 
wreck of its works and buildings left to speak for it. Here 
there were a few sheep feeding. The landlord looked at 
them earnestly, thought he recognized the marks on 
them — then thought he did not — finally gave up the sheep 
in despair, and walked on, just as ignorant of the where- 
abouts of the party as ever. 

The march in the dark, literally as well as metaphori- 
cally in th-e dark, had now been continued for three- 
quarters of an hour from the time when the crippled 
Apprentice had met with his accident. Mr. Idle, with all 
the will to conquer the pain in his ankle, and to hobble 
on^ found the power rapidly failing him, and felt that 
another ten minutes at most, would find him at the end of 

his last physical resources. He had jnst made up his mind 

8* 



t - ■ THE LAZY TOUR O? 

on tliis pcQDt, and was about to communicate the dismal 
result of his reflections to hia companions, when the mist 
suddenly brightened and began to lift straight ahead. In 
another minute, the landlord, who was in advance, pro- 
claimed that he saw a tree. Before long other trees 
appeared — then a oottoge — then a houae beyond the coU 
tage. and a familiar hne of road rising behind it. Last 
of all, Carrock itself loomed darkly into view, far away 
to the right baud. The party had not only got down the 
mountain without knowing how, but had wandered away 
from it in the mist without knowing why — away, £a.T 
down on the very moi>r by which they had approached 
the base of Carrock that morning. 

The happy lifting of the mist, and the still happier dis- 
covery that the travelers had groped their way, though 
by a very roundabout direction, to within a mile or so of 
the part of the valley in which the farm-house was situat- 
ed, restored Mr. Idle'a sinking spirits and reanimated hia 
failing stvength. ^Vhile the landlord ran off to get the 
dog-cart, Thomas was assisted by Goodchild to the cottage 
which had been the first buUding seen when the darkness 
brightened, and was propped up against the garden-wall, 
like an artist's lay-figure waiting to be forwarded, until 
the dog-cart should arrive from the farm-house below. In 
due time — and a very long time it seemed to Mi'. Idle — 
the rattle of wheels was heard, and the crippled Appren- 
tice was lifted into his seat, As the dog-cart was driven 
back to the inn, the landlord related an anecdote which 
he had just heard at the farm-house, of an unhappy man 
who had been lost, like his two guests and himself, on 
Carrock ; who had passed the night there alone ; who 
had been found the next morning, "scared and starved," 
and who never went out afterward except on his way to 
the grave. Mr. Idle heard this sad story, and derived at 
least one useful impression from it. Bad as the pain in 



TWO IDLE APPBENTICES. 185 

his ankle was, he contrived to bear it patiently, for he felt 
grateful that a worse accident had not befallen him in 
the wilds of Carrock. 



1 

4 



CHAPTER THE SECOND. 



Thk dog-cart, with Mr. Thomas Idle and liia ankle on 
the hanging seat behind, Mr. Francis Goodchild »nd the 
Innkeeper iu front, and the I'.ain in epuuta and splashes 
everywhere, made the best of its way hack to the little 
. Inn ; the broken moor country looking like miles upon 
miles of pre- Adamite sop, or the ruini of sonio rnormoua 
jonim of antedilavian toaflt-and- water The trees drip- 
ped ; the oaves of the scattered cottages drijijied ; the 
barren stone-walls dividing the land dripped ; the yelping 
dogs dripped ; carts and wagons under ill-roofed pent- 
houses dripped ; melancholy codks and hens perching 
on their shafts, or seeking shelter underneath them drip- 
ped ; Mr. Goodchild dripped ; Francis Idle dripped ; the 
Innkeeper dripped ; the mare dripped ; the vast curtains 
of mist and cloud that passed before the shadowy forma 
of the hills streamed water as they were drawn across the 
landscape. Down such steep pitches that tlie mare seem- 
ed to be trotting on her head, and up such steep pitches 
that she seemed to have a supplementary leg in her tail, 
the dog-cart jolted and tilted back to the village. It was 
too wet for the women to look out, it was too wet even 
for the children to look out; all the doors and windows 
were closed, and the only sign of life or motion was in 
the rain-ptmctured puddles. 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 187 

Whisky and oil to Thomas Idle's ankle, and whiskey 
without oil to Francis Goodchild's stomach, produced an 
agreeable change in the systems of both : soothing Mr. 
Idle's pain, which was sharp before, and sweetening Mr. 
Goodchild's temper, which was sweet before. Portman- 
teaus being then opened and clothes changed, Mr. Good- 
child, through having no change of outer garments but 
broadcloth and velvet, suddenly became a magnificent por- 
tent in the Innkeeper's house, a shining frontispiece to 
the Fashions for the Month, and a frightful anomaly in 
the Cumberland village. 

Greatly ashamed of his splendid appearance, the con- 
scious Goodchild quenched it as much as possible, in the 
shadow of Thomas Idle's ankle, and in a corner of the 
little covered carriage that started with them for Wigton 
— a most desirable carriage for any country, except for 
its having a flat roof and no sides ; which caused the 
plumps of rain accumulating On the roof to play vigorous 
games of bagatelle into the interior all the way, and to 
score immensely. It was comfortable to see how the 
people coming back in open carts from Wigton market 
made no more of the rain than if it were sunshine ; how 
the Wigton policeman, taking a country walk of half-a- 
dozen miles (apparently for pleasure) in resplendent 
uniform, accepted saturation as his normal state ; how 
clerks and schoolmasters in black, loitered along the road 
without umbrellas, getting varnished at every step ; how 
the Cumberland girls, coming out to look after the Cum- 
berland cows, shook the rain from their eyelashes and 
laughed it away ; and how the rain continued to fall upon 
all, as it only does fall in hill countries. 

Wigton market was over, and its bare booths were 
smoking with rain all down the street. Mr. Thomas Idle, 
melo-dramatically carried to the Inn's first-floor, and laid 
upon three chairs (he should have had the sofa, if there 



188 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

had been one), Mr. Gk)odchild went to the window to take 
an observation of Wigton, and report what he saw to his 
disabled companion. 

" Brother Francis, brother Francis," cried Thomas Idle, 
" what do you see from the turret ? " 

*' I see," said Brother Francis, " what I hope and 
believe to be one of the most dismal places ever seen by 
eyes. I see the houses with their roofs of dull black, 
their stained fronts, and their dark-rinmied windows, look- 
ing as if they were all in mourning. As every little pufF 
of wind comes down the street, I see a perfect train of 
rain let off along the wooden stalls in the market-place 
and exploded against me. I see a very big gas-lamp in 
the centre which I know, by a secret instinct, will not be 
lighted to-night. I see a pump, with a trivet underneath 
its spout whereon to stand the vessels that are brought to 
be filled with water. I see a man come to pump, and he 
pumps very hard, but no water follows and he strolls 
empty away." 

" Brother Francis, brother Francis," cried Thomas 
Idle, " what more do you see from the turret, besides the 
man and the pump, and the trivet and the houses all in 
mourning and the rain ? " 

" I see," said Brother Francis " one, two, three, four, 
, five linen-drapers' shops in front of me. I see a linen- 
draper's shop next door to the rig?it — and there are five 
\ more linen-drapers' shops down the corner to the left. 
Eleven homicidal linen-drapers' shops within a short 
stone's throw, each with its hands at the throats of all 
the rest ! Over the small first-floor of one of these linen- 
drapers' shops appears the wonderful inscription, Bank." 

" Brother Francis, brother Francis," cried Thomas 
Idle, " what more do you see from the turret, besides the 
eleven homicidal linen-drapers' shops, and the wonderful 
inscription ' Bank' on the small lirst-lloor, and the man 



TWO IDLE APPBENTICES. 189 

and the pump and the trivet and the houses all in mourning 
and the rain ? " 

" I see," said Brother Francis, " the depository for 
Christian Knowledge, and through the dark vapor I think 
I again make out Mr. Spurgeon looming heavily. Her 
Majesty the Queen, God bless her, printed in colors, I 
am sure I see. I see the Illustrated London News of 
several weeks ago, and I see a sweetmeat shop— which 
the proprietor calls a ^ Salt Warehouse' — with one small 
female child in a cotton bonnet looking in on tip-toe, 
oblivious of rain. And I see a watchmaker's, with only 
three great pale watches of a dull metal hanging in his 
window, each in a separate pane." 

" Brother Francis, brother Francis," cried Thomas Idle, 
" what more do you see of Wigton, besides these objects 

I and the man and the pump and the trivet and the houses 
all in mourning and the rain ? " 

I " I see nothing more," said Brother Francis, " and there 
is nothing more to see, except the curlpaper bill of the 
theatre, which was opened and shut last week (the manager's 
family played all the parts), and the short, square, chinky 
omnibus that goes to the railway and leads too rattling a 
life over the stones to hold together long. Oh, yes ! Now, 
I see two men with their hands in their pockets and their 
back towards me." 

" Brother Francis, brother Francis," cried Thomas Idle, 
" what do you make out from the turret, of the expres- 
sion of the two men with their hands in their pockets and 
their backs towards you ? " 

"They are mysterious men," said brother Francis, 
** with inscrutable backs. They keep their backs towards 
me with persistency. If one turns an inch in any direc- 
tion, the other turns an inch in the same direction, 
and no more. They turn very stiffly, on a very lit- 
tle pivot, in the middle of the market-place. Their ap- 



190 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

pearance is partly of a mining, partly of a ploughing, 
partly of a stable, character. They are looking at no- 
thing — very hard. Their backs are slouched, and their 
legs are curved with much standing about. Their pock- 
ets are loose and dog's-eared, on account of their hands 
being always in them." They stand to be rained upon, 
without any movement of impatience or dissatisfaction, 
and they keep so close together that an elbow of each 
jostles an elbow of the other, but they never speak. They 
spit at times, but speak not. I see it growing darker 
and darker, and still I see them, sole visible population 
of the place, standing to be rained upon with their backs 
towards me, and looking at notliing very hard." 

" Brother Francis, brother Francis," cried Thomas Idle 
" before you draw down the blind of the turret and come 
in to have your head scorched by the hot gas, if you can, 
and impart to me, something of the expression of those 
two amazing men." 

" The murky shadows," said Francis Goodchild, " are 
gathering fast ; and the wings of coal are folding over 
Wigton. Still, they look at nothing very hard, with 
their backs towards me. Ah ! Now, they turn, and I 
see—" 

" Brother Francis," cried Thomas Idle, " tell me quick- 
ly what you see of the two men of Wigton ! " 

" I see," said Francis Goodchild, " that they have no 
expression at all. And now the town goes to sleep, un- 
dazzled by the large unlighted lamp in the market-place ; 
and let no man wake it." 

At the close of the next day's journey, Thomas Idle's 
ankle became much swollen and inflamed. There are rea- 
sons which will presently explain themselves, for not 
publicly indicating the exact direction in which that journey 
lay, or the place in which it ended. It was a long day's 
shaking of Thomas Idle over the rough roads, and a long 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 191 

day's getting out and going on before the horses, and fag- 
ging up hills, and scouring down hills, on the part of Mr 
Goodchild, who in the fatigues of such labors congratulated 
himself on attaining a high point of idleness. It was at a 
little town, still in Cumberland, that they halted for the 
night, — a very little town, with the purple and brown moor 
close upon its one street ; a curious little ancient market, 
cross set up in the midst of it : and the town itself looking- 
much as if it were a collection of great stones piled on by 
the Druids long ago, which a few recluse people had since 
hollowed out for habitations. 

"Is there any doctor here? "asked Mr. Goodchild, 
on his knee, of the motherly landlady of the little Inn, 
stopping in his examination of Mr. Idle's ankle, with the 
aid of a candle. 

" Ey, my word ! " said the landlady, glancing doubt- 
fully at the ankle for herself ; " there's Doctor Speddie." 

" Is he a good Doctor ? " 

" Ey ! " said the landlady, "I ca' him so. A' cooms^ 
eftlier nae doctor that I ken. Mair nor which, a's just the . 
doctor heer." 

*' Do you think he is at home ?" 

Her reply was, " Gang awa', Jock, and bring him." 

Jock, a white-headed boy, who, under pretence of stir- 
ring up some bay salt in a basin of water for the laving 
of this unfortunate ankle, had greatly enjoyed himself for 
the last ten minutes in splashing the carpet, set off 
promptly. A very few minutes had elapsed when 
he showed the Doctor in, by tumbling against the door, 
before him and bursting it open with his head. 

" Gently, Jock ; gently," said the doctor as he advano- 
ed with a quiet step. " Gentlemen, a good evening. I 
am sorry that my presence is required here. A slight ac- 
cident, I hope ? A slip and a fall ? Yes, yes, yes. Carrock>. 

ndeed ? Ha ! Does that pain you, sir ? No doubt it: 

9 



192 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

does. It is the great connecting ligament here,yoa see, thai 
has been badly strained. Time and rest, sir ! They are 
often the receipt in greater cases," with a slight sigh ; 
" and often the recipe in small. I can send a lotion to 
relieve you, but we must leave the cure to time and rest.*' 

This he said holding Idle's foot on his knee between 
his two hands, as he sat over against him. He had touch- 
ed it tenderly and skilfully in explanation of what he said, 
and, when his careful examination was completed, softly 
returned it to its former horizontal position on the chair. 

He spoke with a little irresolution whenever he began, 
but afterwards fluently. He was a tall, thin, large-boned, 
old gentleman, with an appearance at first sight of being 
hard-featured ; but at a second glance, the mild expression 
of his face and some particular touches of sweetness and 
patience about his mouth, corrected this impression, and 
assigned his long professional rides, by day and night, in 
the bleak-hill-weather, as the true cause of that appear- 
ance. He stooped very little, though past seventy and 
very gi*ey. His dress was more like that of a clergyman 
than a country doctor, being a plain black suit, and a 
plain white neckerchief tied behind like a band. His 
black was the worse for wear, and there were darns in his 
coat, and his linen was a little frayed at the hems and 
edges. He might have been poor — it was likely enough 
in that out-of-the-way spot — or he might have been a lit- 
tle self-forgetful and eccentric. Any one could have seen 
directly, that he had neither wife nor child at home. He 
had a scholarly air with him, and that kind of considerate 
humanity towards others which claimed a gentle consid- 
eration for himself. Mr. Goodchild made this study of 
hiin while he was examining the limb, and ps he lai«l it 
•^down. Mr. Goodchild wishes to add that he coii-^iders it 
.a very good likeness. 

It came out in the course of a Tilth? ci>nvers;iiion, that 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 193 

Doctor Speddie was acquainted with some friends of 
Thomas Idle's, and had, when a young man, passed some 
years in Thomas Idle's birthplace on the other side of 
England. Certain idle labors, the fruit of Mr. Goodchild's 
apprenticeship, also happened to be well known to him. 
The lazy travellers were thus placed on a more intimate 
footing with the Doctor than the casual circumstances of 
the meeting would of themselves have established ; and 
when Doctor Speddie rose to go home, remarking that he 
would send his assistant with the lotion, Francis Goodchild 
said that was unnecessary, for, by the Doctor's leave, he 
would accompany him, and bring it back. (Having done 
nothing to fatigue himself for a full quarter of an hour, 
Francis began to Year that he was not in a state of idleness.) 

Doctor Speddie politely assented to the proposition of 
Francis Goodchild, " as it would give him the pleasure of 
enjoying a few more minutes of Mr. Goodchild's society 
than he could otherwise have hoped for," and they went 
out together into the village street. The rain had nearly 
ceased, the clouds had broken before a cool wind from the 
north-east, and stars were shining from the peaceful heights 
beyond them. 

Doctor Speddie's house was the last house in the place. 
Beyond it lay the moor, all dark and lonesome. The wind 
moaned in a low, dull, shivering manner round the little 
garden, like a houseless creature that knew the winter was 
coming. It was exceedingly wild and solitary. ** Roses," 
said the Doctor, when Goodchild touched some wet leaves 
overhanging the stone porch : " but they get cut to 
pieces.'' 

The Doctor opened the door with a key he carried, and 
led the way into a low but pretty ample hall with rooms 
on either side. The door of one of these stood open, and 
the Doctor entered it, with a word of welcome to his 
guest. It, too, was a low room, half surgery and half 



THB L&ZT TOmt OF 

parlor, with shelves of books and bottles against the walls, 
which were of a very dark hue. There was a fire ia the 
grate, the night being damp and ehiU. Loaning against 
the chimney-piece looking down into it, Btoodthe Doctor's 
Assistant. 

A man o! moat remarkable appearance. Much older 
than Mr. Goodchild had expected, for he was at leiLst 
Iwo-and-fifty ; but that was nothing. What was start- 
ling in him was his remarkable paleness. His large black 
eyes, his sunken cheeks, hia long and heavy iron-grey 
hair, his wasted hands, and even the attenuation of his 
figure, were at first forgotten in his extraordiTiary pallor. 
There was no vestige of color in the man. When he 
turned his face, Francis Goodchild sttcrted as if a stone 
figure had looked round at him. 

" Mr. Lorn." said the Doctor. •' Mr. Goodchild." 

The Assistant in a distraught way — as if he had forgot- 
ten something— as if he had forgotten everything, even to 
his own name and himself — acknowledged the visitor's 
presence, and stepped farther back into the shadow of the 
wall behind him. But hf. was so pale, that his face stood 
ont in relief against the dark wall, and really could not be 
hidden so. 

"Mr. Goodchiid's friend has met with an accident, 
Liorn," said Doctor Speddie. " We want the lotion for it 
bad sprain." 

A pause. 

" My dear fellow, you are more than unusually absent 
to-night. The lotion for a bad sprain." 

" Ah ! yes I Directly." 

He was evidently relieved to turn away, and to take 
his white face and his wild eyes to a table in a recess among 
the bottles. But, though he stood there, compounding the 
lotion with hia back towards them, Goodchild could not 
for many moments withdraw his gaze from the man. 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 195 

When he at length did so, he found the Doctor observing 
him, with some trouble in his face. " He is absent," ex- 
plained the Doctor, in a low voice. "Always absent. 
Very absent." 

« Is he ill?" 

" No, not ill." 

« Unhappy ? " 

" I have my suspicions that he was," assented the Doc- 
tor, " once." 

Francis Goodchild could not but observe that the Doctor 
accompanied these words with a benignant and protecting 
glance at their subject, in which there was much of the 
expression with which an attached father might have look- 
ed at a heavily afflicted son. Yet, that they were not 
father and son must have been plain to most eyes. The 
Assistant, on the other hand, turning presently to ask the 
Doctor some question, looked at him with a wan smile, as 
if he were his whole reliance and sustainment in life. 

It was in vain for the Doctor, in his easy chair, to try 
to lead the mind of Mr. Goodchild in the opposite easy 
chair away from what was before him. Let IVIr. Good- 
child do what he would to follow the Doctor, his eyes and 
thoughts reverted to the Assistant. The Doctor soon per- 
ceived it, and, after falling silent, and musing in a little 
perplexity, said : 

" Lorn ! " 

" My dear Doctor." 

" Would you go to the Inn, and apply that lotion ? 
You will show the best way of applying it, far better than 
Mr. Goodchild can." 

" With pleasure." 

The Assistant took his hat, and passed like a shadow 
to the door. 

" Lorn !" said the Doctor, calling after him. 

He returned. 



19G THE LAZY TOUE OF 

••]^lr. Gooilcliild will keep me company till you come 
home. Don't hurry. Excuse my calliucr you buck." 

'* It 16 not, said the Assistant with his former smile, 
" the first time you have called me back, dear Doctor." 
With these words he went away. 

" Mr. Goodchild," said Doctor Speddie, in a low voice, 
and with his former troubled expression of face, ** I 
have seen that your attention has been concentrated on 
my friend." 

" He fascinates me. I must apologise to you, but he 
has quite bewildered and mastered me." 

" I find that a lonely existence and a long secret," said 
the Doctor, drawing his chair a little nearer to Mr. 
Goodchild*s, " become in the course of time very heavy. 
I will tell you something. You may make what use you 
will of it, under fictitious names. I know I may trust 
you. I am the more inclined to confidence to-night 
through having been unexpectedly led back, by the cur- 
rent of our conversation at the Inn, to the scenes in my 
early life. Will you please to draw a little nearer ? " 

Mr. Goodchild drew a little nearer, and the Doctor 
went on thus : speaking, for the most part, in so cautious 
a voice, that the wind, though it was far from high, occa- 
sionally got the better of him. 

When the present nineteenth century was younger by 
a good many years than it is now, a certain friend of 
mine, named Arthur Holliday, happened to arrive in 
the town of Doncaster, exactly in the middle of the race- 
week, or, in other words, in the middle of the month of 
September. He was one of those reckless, rattle-pa^ed, 
open-hearted, and open-mouthed young gentlemen who 
possess the gift of familiarity in its highest perfection, and 
who scramble carelessly along the journey of life, mak- 
ing friends, as the phrase is, wherever they go. His 
father was a rich manufacturer, and had bought landed 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 197 

property enough in one of the midland counties to make 
all the born squires in his neighborhood thoroughly en- 
vious of him. Arthur was his only son, possessor in 
prospect of the great estate and the great business after 
his father's death ; well supplied with money, and not too 
rigidly looked after during his father's lifetime. Report, 
or scandal, whichever you please, said that the old gentle- 
man had been rather wild in his youthful days, and that, 
unlike most parents, he was not disposed to be violently 
indignant when he found that his son took after him. 
This may be true or not. I myself only knew the elder 
Mr. Holliday when he was getting on in years ; and 
then he was as quiet and as respectable a gentleman as 
ever I met with. 

Well, one September, as I told you, young Arthur 
comes to Doncaster, having decided all of a sudden, in 
his hair-brained way, that he would go to the races. He 
did not reach the town till towards the close of the even- 
ing, and he went at once to see about his dinner and bed 
at the principal hotel. Dinner they were ready enough 
to give him, but as for a bed, they laughed when he men- 
tioned it. In the race-week at Doncaster, it is no un- 
common thing for visitors who have not bespoken ap- 
partments to pass the night in their carriages at the inn 
doors. As for the lower sort of strangers, I myself have 
often seen them, at that full time, sleeping out under the 
doorsteps for want of a covered place to creep under. 
Rich as he was, Arthur's chance of getting a night's lodging 
(seing that he had not written beforehand to secure one) 
was more than doubtful. He tried the second hotel, and 
the third hotel, and two of the inferior inns after that ; 
and was met everywhere by the same form of answer. 
No accommodation for the night of any sort was left. 
All the bright golden sovereigns in his pocket would not 
buy him a bed at Doncaster in the race-week. 




THE LAZr TOUR OF 

Toa joung fellow of Artbur's temperament, t}iB novel 
ty of being turned away into the street, like a penoileM 
Ttigabond, at every houite where he asked for a 
presented itself in the light of a uew and highly aoia^ng 
piece of experience. He went on with his carpet bag in 
his hand, applying for a betl at every place of entertain- 
ment for travellers that he could find in Doncuster, until 
lie wandeeed into the outskirts of the town. By thb 
time the last glimmer of twilight lia<i faded out, the moon 
was rising dimly in a mist, the wind was getting Mtid, 
the cloude were gathering heavily, and there was every 
prospect that it was soon going to rain. 

The look of the night bad rather a lowering effect on 
yoQBg Holliday's good spirits. He began to contemplate 
the houseless situation in which he was placed, from the 
serious railier than the humorous point of view ; and he 
looked about hiin for another public-house to inquire at 
with something very like downright anxiety \a hia mind 
on the subject of a lodging for the night. The suburban 
part of the town towards which he now strayed was hard- 
ly lighted at all, and he could see nothing of the houses as 
he passed them, except that they got progrtssively smal- 
ler and dirtier the farther he wont. Down the winding 
road before him, shone the dull gleam of an oil lamp, 
the one faint, lonely light that struggled ineffectually 
with the foggy darkness all round bim. lie resolved to 
go on as far as this lamp, and then, if it showed bim noth- 
ing in the shape of an Inn, to return to the central part 
of the town and try if be could not at least secure a chair 
to sit down on, through the night, at one of the principal 
hotels. 

As he got near the lamp, be heard voices, and, walking 
close wnder it, found that it lighted the entrance to a 
narrow court, on the. wall of which was painted a long 
hand in faded flesh-color, pointing, with a lean fore-iinger 
to this iuBcription ; 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 199 

THE TWO ROBINS. 

Arthur turned into the court without hesitation, to see 
what The Two Eobins could do for him. Four or five 
men were standing together round the door of the house, 
which was at the bottom of the court, facing the entrance 
from the street. The men were all listening to one other 
man, better dressed than the rest, who was telling his 
audience something in a low voice, in which they were 
apparently very much interested. 

On entering the passage Arthur was passed by a 
stranger with a knapsack in his hand, who was evidently 
leaving the house. 

" No," said the traveller with the knapsack, turning 
round and addressing himself cheerfully to a fat, sly- 
looking, bald-headed man, with a dirty white apron on» 
who had followed him down the passage. " No, Mr. 
Landlord, I am not easily scared by trifles ; but, I don't 
mind confessing that I can't quite stand that^' 

It occurred to young Holliday, the moment he heard 
these words, that the stranger had been asked an exorbi- 
tant price for a bed at The Two Robins ; and that he 
was unable or unwilling to pay it. The moment his back 
was turned, Arthur, comfortably conscious of his own 
well-filled pockets, addressed himself in a great hurry, 
for fear any other benighted traveller should slip in and 
forestall him, to the sly-looking landlord with the dirty 
apron and the bald head. 

" If you have got a bed to let," said he, " and if that 
gentleman who has just gone out won't pay you your 
price for it, I will." 

The sly landlord looked hard at Arthur. 

" Will you. Sir ? " he asked, in a meditative, doubtful 
way. 

" Name your price," said young Holliday, thinking 
that the landlord's hesitation sprang from some boorish 



*W> THE LAZY TOtJB Or 

^tmtofhim. " Name your price, and rn • 

the money at once, if you like." ^ ^u giy^ y^^ 

" Are you game for ^ve shillings ? » inaii-,v^ 
lord, rubbing his stubby double chin, ^dl ^^® ^* 
thoughtfully at the ceiling above him. ' booking j^p 

Arthur nearly laughed in the man's face • K f 
it prudent to control himself, offered the five ^^.^^."*^*^ 
geriouHly as he could. The sly landlord held "^ ** 
hand, then suddenly drew it back again. ^ ^^^ ^ 

"You're acting all fair and above-board b 

said ; " and before I take your money I'U ^^ ^i,^^'" ^ 

by you. Look here, this is how it stands. ^ ^^^^ 

have a bed all to yourself for ^ve shillings ; but y ^^ ^^ 

have more than a half-share of the room if o* ^^^^^ 
^ 1- X T "* lu stands in. 

Do you see what I mean, young gentleman ?" 

" Of course I do," returned Arthur, a little irritaW 
" You mean that it is a double-bedded room, and that ^' 
of the beds is occupied ? " ^^® 

Tlie landlord nodded his head and rubbed his d Ki 
chin harder than ever. Arthur hesitated, and mecha ' 
cally moved back a step or two towards the door, -pi, 
idea of sleeping in the same room with a total stranger 
did not present an attractive prospect to him. Jje felt 
more than half inclined to drop his five shillings i^to bis 
pocket and to go out into the street once more. 

" Is it yes, or no ? " asked the landlord. Settle it as 
quick as you can, because there's lots of people Wantinff 
a bed at Doncaster to-night besides you." 

Arthur looked toward the court, and heard the rain 
falling heavily in the street outside. lie thought be 
would ask a question or two before he rashly decided on 
leaving the shelter of The Two Robins. 

" What sort of a man is it who has got the other bed ? *» 
ho inquired. "Is he a gentleman? I mean, is he a 
quiet, well-behaved person ? " 



e 

e 
er 



I 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 201 

" The quietest man I ever came across," said the land- 
lord, rubbing his fat hands stealthily one over the other. 
" As sober as a judge, and as regular as clock-work in 
his habits. It hasn't struck nine, not ten minutes ago, 
and he's in bed already. I don't know whether that 
comes up to your notion of a quiet man ; it goes a long 
way ahead of mine, I can tell you." 

" Is he asleep, do you think ? " asked Arthur. 

" I know he's asleep," returned the landlord. " And 
what's more, he's gone off so fast that I'll warrant you 
don't wake him. This way, Sir," said the landlord, 
speaking over young HoUiday's shoulder, as if he was 
addressing some new guest who was approaching the 
house. 

" Here you are," said Arthur, determined to be before- 
hand with the stranger, whoever he might be. " I'll take 
the bed." And he handed the five shillings to the land- 
lord, who nodded, dropped the money carelessly into liis 
waistcoat pocket, and lighted a candle. 

" Come up and see the room," said the host of The 
Two Robins, leading the way to the staircase quite 
briskly, considering how fat he was. 

They mounted to the second floor of the house. The 
landlord half opened a door, fronting the landing, then 
stopped, and turned round to Arthur. 

" It's a fair bargain, mind, on my side as well as on 
yours," he said. " You give me five shillings, I give you 
in return a clean, comfortable bed ; and I warrant, before 
hand, that you won't be interfered with or annoyed in 
any way by the man who sleeps in the same room with 
you." Saying those words, he looked hard, for a mo- 
ment, in young HoUiday's face, and then led the way into 
the room. 

It was larger and cleaner than Arthur had expected it 
would be. The two beds stood parallel with each other 



202 THE LAZY TOUB OF 



space of about six feet interveniDg between them. 
They were both of the same medium size, and both had 
the same plain white curtains, made to draw, if necessary, 
all round them. The occupied bed was the bed nearest 
the window. The curtains were all drawn round this, 
except the half-curtain at the bottom, on the side of the 
bed farthest from the window. Arthur saw the feet of 
the sleeping man raising the scanty clothes into a sharp 
little eminence, as if he was lying flat on his back. He 
took the candle, and advanced softly to draw the curtain 
— stopped half way, and ilistened for a moment — ^then 
turned to the landlord. 

" He is a very quiet sleeper," said Arthur. 

" Yes," said the landlord, ** very quiet." 

Young HoUiday advanced with the candle, and looked 
in at the man cautiously. 

" How pale he is ! " said Arthur. 

" Yes," returned the landlord, " pale enough isn't he ? " 

Arthur looked closer at the man. The bed-clothes were 
drawn up to his chin, and they lay perfectly still over the 
region of the chest. Surprise and vaguely startled as he 
noticed this, Arthur stooped down closer to the stranger ; 
looked at his ashy, parted lips ; listened breathlessly for 
an instant ; looked again at the strangely still face and 
the motionless lips and chest; and turned round sud- 
denly on the landlord, with his own cheeks as pale for the 
moment, as the hollow cheeks of the man on the bed. 

" Come here," lie whispered, under his breath. " Come 
here, for God's sake ! The man's not asleep — he is dead ! " 

"You have found that out sooner than I thought you 
would," said tlie landlord, composedly. " Yes, he's dead, 
5ure enough, lie died at five o'clock to-day." 

'' How did he die ? Who is he ? " asked Arthur, stag- 
gered, for the moment, by the audacious coolness of the 
answer. 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 203 

** As to who he is/' rejoined the landlord, " I know no 
more about him than you do. There are his books and ' 
letters and things, all sealed up in that brown paper par- 
cel, for the Coroner's inquest to open to-morrow or next 
day. He's been here a week, paying his way fairly 
enough, and stopping in-doors, for the most part, as if he 
was ailing. My girl brought him up his tea at five to- 
day, and as he was pouring of it out, he fell down in a 
faint, or a compound of both, for anything I know. We 
could not bring him to — and I said he was dead. And 
the Doctor couldn't bring him to— and the Doctor said he 
was dead. And there he is. And the Coroner's inquest 
coming as soon as it can. And that's as much as I know 
about it." 

Arthur held the candle close to the man's lips. The 
flame still burned straight up, as steadily as ever. There 
was a moment of silence, and the rain pattered drearily 
through it against the panes of the window. 

" If you haven't got nothing more to say to me," con- 
tinued the landlord, " I suppose I may go. You don't 
expect your five shillings back, do you ? There's the 
bed I promised you, clean and comfortable. There's the 
man I warranted not to disturb you, quiet in this world 
forever. If you're frightened to stop along with him, that's 
not my look out. I've kept my part of the bargain, and I 
mean to keep the money. I'm not Yorkshire mysel-f , young 
gentleman ; but I've lived long enough in the^e parts to 
have my wits sharpened ; and I shouldn't wonder if you 
found out the way to brighten up yours, next time you 
come among us." With these words, the landlord turned 
towards the door, and laughed to himself softly, in high 
satisfaction at his own sharpness. 

Startled and shocked as he was, Arthur had by this 
time sufficiently recovered himself to feel indignant at the 
trick that had been played on him, and at the insolent 
manner in which the landlord exulted in it. 



204 THE LAZY TOUB OF 

" Don't laugh," he said, sharply, " till you are quite 
sore you have got the laugh against me. You sha'n't 
have the five shillings for nothing, my man. I'll keep 
the bed." 

" Will you ? " said the landlord. " Then I wish you s 
good night's rest" With that brief farewell, he went 
out, and shut the door after him. 

A good night's rest ! The words had hardly been spok- 
en, the door had hardly been closed, before Arthur half 
repented the hasty words that had just escaped him. 
Though not naturally over-sensitive, and not wanting in 
courage of the moral as well as the physical sort, the 
presence of the dead man had an instantaneously chilling 
effect on his mind when he found himself alone in the 
room — alone, and bound by his own rash words to stay 
there till the next morning. An older man would have 
thought nothing of those words, and would have acted 
without reference to them, as his calmer sense suggested. 
But Arthur was too young to treat the ridicule, even of 
his inferiors, with contempt — too young not to fear the 
momentary humiliation of falsifying his own foolish boast, 
more than he feared the trial of watching out the long 
night in the same chamber with the dead. 

" It is but a few hours," he thought to himself, " and I 
can get away the first thing in the morning." 

He was looking toward the occupied bed as that idea 
passed through his mind, and the sharp angular eminence 
made in the clothes by the dead man's upturned feet again 
caught his eye. He advanced and drew the curtains, pur- 
posely abstaining, as he did so, from looking at the face 
of the corpse, lest he might unnerve himself at the outset 
by fastening some ghastly impression of it on his mind. 
He drew the curtain very gently, and sighed involuntarily 
as he closed it. " Poor fellow I" he saJd, almost as sadly 
as if he had known the man. " Ah, poor fellow ! " 



^ 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 205 

He went next to the window. The night was black, 
and he could see nothing from it. . The rain still pattered 
heavily against the glass. He inferred, from hearing it, 
that the window was at the back of the house ; remem- 
bering that the front was sheltered from the weather by 
the court and the buildings over it. 

While he was still standing at the window — ^f or even the 
dreary rain was a relief, because of the sound it made ; a 
relief, also, because it moved, and had some faint sugges- 
tion, in consequence, of life and companionship in it-»— 
while he was standing at the window, and looking vacant- 
ly into the black darkness outside, he heard a distant 
church clock strike ten. Only ten ! How was he to pass 
the time, till the house was astir the next morning ? 

Under any other circumst&nces, he would have gone 
down to the public-house parlor, would have called for his 
grog, and would have laughed and talked with the com- 
pany assembled, as familiarly as if he had known them all 
his life. But the very thought of whiling away the time 
in this manner was now distasteful to him. The new 
situation in which he was placed seemed to have altered 
him to himself already. Thus far, his life had been the 
common, trifling, prosaic, surface life of a prosperous young 
man, with no troubles to conquer and no trials to face. 
He had lost no relation whom he loved, no friend whom 
he treasured. Till this night what share he had of the im- 
mortal inheritance that is divided among us all, had lain 
dormant within him. Till this night, Death and he had 
not once met, even in thought. 

He took a few turns up and down the room — then 
stopped. The noise made by his boots on the poorly 
carpeted floor jarred on his ear. He hesitated a little, 
and ended by taking the boots off and walking backward 
and forward noiselessly. All desire to sleep or to rest 
had left him. The bare thought of lying down on tHe 



206 THE LAZY TOUB OF 

unoccupied bed instantly drew the picture on his mind of 
a dreadful mimicry of the position of the dead man. Who 
was he ? What was the story of his past life ? Poor he 
must have been, or he would not have stopped at such a 
place as The Two Robins Inn — and weakened, probably, 
by long illness, or he could hardly have died in the man- 
ner which the landlord had described. Poor, ill, lonely — 
dead in a strange place ; dead, with nobody but a stranger 
to pity him ! A sad story : truly on the mere face of it, a 
very sad story. 

While these thoughts were passing through his mind, 
he had stopped insensibly at the window, close to which 
stood the foot of the bed with the closed curtains. At 
first he looked at it absently ; then he became conscious 
that his eyes were fixed on \t ; and then, a perverse desire 
took possession of him to do the very thing which he had 
resolved not to do, up to this time — to look at the dead 
man. 

He stretched out his hand toward the curtains, but 
checked himself in the very act of undrawing them, turned 
his back sharply on the bed, and walked toward the 
chimney-piece, to see what things were placed on it, and 
to try if he could keep the dead man out of his mind in 
that way. 

There was a pewter inkstand on the chimney-piece, 
with some mildewed rem^iins of ink in the bottle. There 
were two coarse china ornaments of the commonest kind ; 
and there was a square of embossed card, dirty and fly- 
blown, with a collection of wretched riddles printed on it, 
in all sorts of zigzag directions, and in variously colored 
inks. He took the card, and went away to read it, to the 
table on which the candle was ])lacod ; sitting down with 
his back resolutely turned to th<», curtained bed. 

He read the first riddle, the soc'ond, the third, all in one 
corner of the card — then turned it round j)atiently to look 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 207 

at another. — Before he could begin reading the riddles 
printed here, the sound of the church-clock stopped him. 
Eleven. He had got through an hour of the time, in the 
room with the dead man. 

Once more, he looked at the card. It was not easy to 
make out the letters printed on it, in consequence of the 
dimness of the light which the landlord had left him — b, 
common tallow candle, furnished with heavy old-fashioned 
steel snuffers. Up to this time, his mind had been too 
much occupied to think of the light. He had left the 
wick of the candle unsnuffed, till it had risen higher than 
the flame, and had burned into an odd pent-house shape 
at the top, from which morsels of the charred cotton fell 
off, from time to time, in little flakes. He took up the 
snuffers now and trimmed the wick. The light brightened 
directly, and the room became less dismal. 

Again he turned to the riddles, reading them doggedly 
and resolutely, now in one corner of the card, now in 
another. All his efforts, however, could not fix his atten- 
tion on them. He pursued his occupation mechanically, 
deriving no sort of impression from what he was reading. 
It was as if a shadow from the curtained bed had got 
between his mind and the gayly printed letters — a shadow 
that nothing Could dispel. At last, he gave up the struggle 
and threw the card from him impatiently, and took to 
walking softly up and down the room again. 

The dead man, the dead man, the hidden dead man on 
the bed ! There was the one persistent idea still haunting 
him. Hidden ! Was it only the body being there, or was 
it the body being there, concealed, that was preying on 
his mind ? He stopped at the window, with that doubt in 
him ; once more listening to the pattering rain, once 
more looking out into the black darkness. 

Still the dead man ! The darkness forced his mind back 

upon itself, and set his memory at work, reviving, with a 

9* 



■i"-* 



208 THE LAZY TOUB OF 

plainfolly vivid distinctDess the momentary impression it 
had received from his first sight of the corpse. Before 
long, the face seemed to be hovering out in the middle of 
the darkness, confronting him through the window, with 
the paleness whiter, with the dreadful dull line of light 
between the imperfectly-closed eyelids broader than he 
had seen it — with the parted lips slowly dropping farther 
and farther away from each other — with the features 
growing larger and moving closer, till they seemed to fill 
the window and to silence the rain, and to shut out the 
night. 

The sound of a voice shouting below stairs woke him 
suddenly from the dream of his own distempered fancy. 
He recognized it as the voice of the landlord. " Shut up 
at twelve, Ben," he heard it say, " I'm off to bed ! " 

He wiped away the damp that had gathered on his 
forehead, reasoned with himself for a little while, and 
resolved to shake his mind free of the ghastly counterfeit 
which still clung to it, by forcing himself to confront, if 
it was only for a moment, the solemn reality. Without 
allowing himself an instant to hesitate, he parted the cur- 
tains at the foot of the bed, aud looked through. 

There was the sad, peaceful, white face, with the awful 
mystery of stillness on it, laid back upon the pillow. No 
stir, no change there ! He only looked at it for a moment 
before he closed the curtains again — ^but that moment 
steadied him, calmed him, restored him — mind and body 
— to himself. 

He returned to his old occiqpation of walking up and 
down the room ; persevering in it, this time, till the clock 
struck again. Twelve. 

As the sound of the clock-bell died away, it was suc- 
ceeded by the confused noise, down stairs, of the drinkers 
in the tap-room leaving the house. The next sound, 
after an interval of silence, was caused by the barring of 



TWO IDLE APPBENTICE8. 209 

the door, and the closmg of the shutters, at the back of 
the Inn. Then the silence followed agam, and was dis- 
turbed no more. 

He was alone now — ^absolutely, utterly alone with the 
dead man, till the next morning. 

The wick of the candle wanted trimming again. He 
took up the snuffers — but paused suddenly on the very 
point af using them, and looked attentively at the candle 
— then over his shoulder, at the curtained bed — then 
again at the candle. It had been lighted for the first 
time, to show him the way up stairs, and three parts of it 
at least were already consumed. In another hour it 
would be burned out. In another hour — ^unless he called 
at once to the man who had shut up the Inn, for a fresh 
candle — he would be left in the dark. 

Strongly as his mind had been affected since he had 
entered the room, his unreasonable dread of encountering 
ridicule, and af exposing his courage to suspicion, had not 
altogether lost its influence over him, even yet. He lin- 
gered irresolutely by the table, waiting till he could pre- 
vail on himself to open the door, and call, from the land- 
ing, to the man who had shut up the Inn. In his present 
hesitating frame of mind, it was a kind of relief to gain a 
few moments only by engaging in the trifling occupation 
of snuffing the candle. His hand trembled a little> and 
the snuffers were heavy and awkward to use. When he 
closed them on the wick, he closed them a hair's-breadth 
too low. In an instant the candle was out, and the room 
was plunged in pitch darkness. 

The one impression which the absence of light immedi- 
ately produced on his mind, was distrust of the curtained 
bed — distrust which shaped itself into no distinct idea, 
but which was powerful enough, in its very vagueness, to 
bind him down to the chair, to make his heart beat fast, 
and to set him listening intently. No sound stirred in 



SIO THK LAZT TOUB OV 

the room but the familiar sound of the rain ^gMn^ the 
window, louder and sharper now than he had heard it 
yeL 

Still the Tagde distrost, the inexpressible dread pos- 
sessed him, and kept him in his chair. He had put his 
carpetrbag on the table, when he first entered the room, 
and he now took the key from his pocket, reached out 
his hand softly, opened the bag, and groped in it for his 
traveling writing-case, in which he knew that there 'was a 
small store of matches. When he had got one of the 
matches he waited before he struck it on the coarse wood- 
en table, and listened intently again, without knowing 
why. Still there was no sound in the room but the 
steady, ceaseless, rattling sound of the rain. 

He lighted the candle again, without another moment 
of delay ; and, on the instant of its burning up, the first 
object in the room that his eyes sought for was the cur- 
tained bed. 

Just before the light had been put out, he h&d looked 
in that direction, and had seen no change, no disarrange- 
ment of any sort, in the folds of the closely drawn cur- 
tains. 

When he looked at the bed now, he saw, hanging over 
the side of it, a long white hand. 

It lay perfectly motionless, midway on the side of the 
bed, where the curtain at the head and the curtain at the 
foot met. Nothing more was visible. The clinging cur- 
tains hid every thing but the long white hand. 

He stood looking at it unable to stir, unable to call out ; 
feeling nothing, knowing nothing ; every faculty he pos- 
sessed gathered up and lost in the one seeing faculty. 
How long that first panic held him, he never could tell 
afterward. It might have been only for a moment ; it 
might have been for many minutes together. How he 
got to the bed — whether he ran to it headlong, or whether 



TWO IDLE APPBENTICES. 211 

he approached it slowly — ^how he wrought himself up to 
unclose the curtains and look in, he never has remembered, 
and never will remember to his dying day. It is ei^ough 
that he did go to the bed, and that he did look inside the 
curtains. 

The man had moved. One of his arms was outside of 
the clothes ; his face was turned a little on the pillow ; 
his eyelids were wide open. Changed as to position, and 
as to one of the features, the face was otherwise fearfully 
and wonderfully unaltered. The dead paleness and the 
dead quiet, were on it still. One glance showed Arthur 
this — one glance before he flew breathless to the door, 
and alarmed the house. 

The man whom the landlord called " Ben," was the 
first to appear on the stairs. In three words Arthur 
told him what had happened, and sent him for the nearest 
doctor. 

I, who tell you this story, was then staying with a 
medical friend of mine, in practice at Doncaster, taking 
care of his patients for him during his absence in London ; 
and I, for the time being, was the nearest doctor. They 
had sent for me from the Inn, when the stranger was taken 
ill in the afternoon, but I was not at home, and medical 
assistance was sought for elsewhere. When the man 
from The Two Robins rang the night-bell, I was just 
thii king of going to bed. Naturally enough, I did not 
believe a word of his story about " a dead man who had 
come to life again." However, I put on my hat, armed 
myself with one or two bottles of restorative medicine, 
and ran to the Inn, expecting to find nothing more re- 
markable, when I got there, than a patient in a fit. 

My surprise at finding that the man had spoken the 
literal truth was almost, if not quite, equalled by my as- 
tonishment at finding myself face to face with Arthur 
Holliday as soon as I entered the bed-room. It was no 



212 THE LAZT TOUB OF 

time then for giving or seeking explanations. We just 
shook hands amazedly ; and then I ordered ererybody 
but Arthur out of the room, and hurried to the man on 
the bed. 

The kitchen fire had not been long out. There was 
plenty of hot water in the boiler, and plenty of flannel 
to be had. With these, with my medicines, and with sudi 
help as Arthur could render under my direction, I drag- 
ged the man literally out of the jaws of death. In less 
than an hour from the time when I had been called in, he 
was alive and talking in the bed on which he had been 
laid out to wait for the coroner's inquest. 

You will naturally ask me what had been the matter 
with him, and I might treat you in reply to a long theory, 
plentifully sprinkled with what the children call hard 
words. I prefer telling you that, in this case, cause and 
effect could not be satisfactorily joined together by any 
theory whatever. There are mysteries in life, and the 
conditions of it, which human science has not fathomed 
yet ; and I candidly confess to you that, in bringing that 
man back to existence, I was, morally speaking, groping 
hap-hazard in the dark. I know (from the testimony of 
the doctor who attended him in the afternoon) that the 
vital machinery, so far as its action is appreciable by our 
senses, had, in this case, unquestionably stopped ; and I 
am equally certain ( seeing that I recovered him ) that the 
vital principle was not extinct. When I add, that he had 
suffered from a long and complicated illness, and that his 
whole nervous system was utterly deranged, I have told 
you all I really know of the physical condition of my 
dead-alive patient at The Two Robins Inn. 

When he ** came to," as the phrase goes, he was a 
startling object to look at, with his colorless face, his sun- 
ken cheeks, his wild black eyes, and his long black hair. 
The first question he asked me about himself, when he 



TWO IDE APPRENTICES. 213 

conld speak, made me suspect that I had been called in 
to a man in my own profession. I mentioned to him my 
surmise, and he told me that I was right. 

He said he had come last from Paris, where he had 
been attached to a hospital. That he had lately return- 
ed to England, on his way to Edinburgh, to continue his 
studies ; that he had been taken ill on the journey ; and 
that he had stopped to rest and recover himself at Don- 
caster. He did not add a word about his name, or who 
he was ; and of course, I did not question him on the 
subject. All I inquired, when he ceased speaking, was 
what branch of the profession he intended to follow. 

" Any branch," he said, bitterly, '* which will put 
bread into the mouth of a poor man." 

At this, Arthur, who had been hitherto watching him 
in silent curiosity, burst out impetuously in his uusal 
good-humored way : 

" My dear fellow ! "( eve;pybody was " my dear fellow" 
with Arthur ) " now you have come to life again, don't 
begin by being down-hearted about your prospects. I"ll 
answer for it, I can help you to some capital thing in the 
medical line— or, if I can't, I know my father can." 

The medical student looked at him steadily. 

" Thank you," he said, coldly. Then added, " May I 
ask who your father is ? " 

" He's well enough known all about this part of the 
country, " replied Arthur. " He is a great manufacturer 
and his name is Holliday." 

My hand was on the man's wrist during this brief con- 
versation. The instant the name of Holliday was pro- 
nounced I felt the pulse under my fingers flutter, go on 
suddenly with a bound, and beat afterward, for a minute 
or two, at the fever rate. 

" How did you come here ? " asked the stranger, quick- 
ly, excitably, passionately almost. 



1 



214 THE LAZT TOT7B OF 

Arthur related briefly what had happened from the 
lime of his first taking the bed at the imi. 

^^ I am indebted to Mr. Holliday's son, theiiy for the 
help that has saved my life, ' said the medical stadent, 
speaking to himself, with a singular sarcasm in his voice. 
** Come here I " 

He held out, as he spoke, his long, white, bony right 
hand. 

** With all my heart," said Arthur, taking the hand 
cordially. " I may confess it now," he continue<}, laugh- 
ing, " upon my honor, you almost frightened me out of 
my wits." 

The stranger did not seem to listen. His wild black 
eyes were fixed with a look of eager interest on Arthur's 
face, and his long bony fingers kept tight hold of Arthur's 
hand. Young Holliday, on his side, returned the gaze, 
amazed and puzzled by the medical student's odd lan- 
guage and manners. The two faces were close together ; I 
looked at them ; and, to my amazement, I was suddenly 
impressed by the sense of a likeness between them — not 
in features or complxion, but solely in expression. It 
must have been a strong likeness, or I should certainly 
not have found it out ; for I am naturally slow in detecting 
resemblances between faces. 

" You have saved my life, " said the strange man, stUl 
looking hard in Arthur's face, still holding tightly by his 
hand. " If you had been my own brother, you could not 
have done more for me than that." 

He laid a singularly strong emphasis on these three 
words " my own brother, " and a change passed over his 
face as he pronounced them — a change that no language of 
mine is competent to describe. 

" I hope I have not done being of service to you yet, " 
said Arthur. << I'll speak to my father as soon as I get 
iiome. " 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 215 

" You seem to be fond and proud of your father," said 
the medical student. " I suppose, in return, he is fond 
and proud of you ? " 

" Of course he is 1" answered Arthur, laughing. " Is 
there anything wonderful in that ? Isn't your father 
fond— " 

The stranger suddenly dropped young HoUiday's hand, 
and turned his face away. 

" I beg your pardon, " said Arthur. " I hope I have 
not unintentionally pained you. I hope you have not lost 
your father ? " 

" I can't well love what I have never had,'' retorted the 
medical student, with a harsh, mocking laugh. 

" What you never had ! " 

The strange man suddenly caught Arthur's hand again 
suddenly looked once more hard in his face. 

" Yes, " he said, with a repetition of the bitter laugh. 
*' You have brought a poor devil back into the world, 
who had no business there. Do I astonish you ? Well ! 
I have a fancy of my own for telling you what men in ray 
situation generally keep a secret. I have no name and 
no father. The merciful law of Society tells me I am 
Nobody's Son ! Ask your father if he will be my father 
too, and help me on in life with the family name. " 

Arthur looked at me more puzzled than ever. I signed 
to him to say nothing, and then laid my fingers again on 
the man's wrist. No ! In spite of the extraordinary speech 
that he had just made, he was not, as I had been disposed 
to suspect, beginning to get lightheaded. His pulse, by 
this time, had fallen back to a quiet, slow beat, and his skin 
was moist and cool. Not a symptom of fever or agitation 
about him. 

Finding that neither of us answered him, he turned 

to me, and began talking of the extraordinary nature 

of his case, and asking my advice about the future course 

10 



1 



216 THE LAZT TOUB OF 

of medical treatment to whkh he ought to subject hmt 
sell. I said the matter required careful thinViTig oyer, 
aud suggested that I should submit certain prescriptioDB 
to him the next morning. He told me to write them 
at once, as he would, most likely, be leaving Doncaster 
in the morning, before I was up. It was quite useless 
to represent to him the foUj and danger of such a pro- 
ceeding as this. He heard me politely and patiently, 
but held to his resolution, without offering any reasons 
or explanations, and repeated to me, that if I wished to 
give him a chance of seeing my prescription I most write 
it at once. Hearing this, Arthur volunteered the loan of a 
travelling case, which, he said, he had with him; and, 
bringing it to the bed, shook the note-paper out of the 
pocket of the case forthwith in his usual careless way. 
With the paper there fell out on the counterpane of the 
bed a small packet of sticking-plaster, and a little water* 
color drawing of a landscape. 

The medical student took up the drawing and looked at 
it. His eye fell on some initials neatly written in cipher 
in one corner. He started and trembled ; his pale face 
crew whiter than ever ; his wild black eves turned on Ar- 
thur, and looked through and through him. 

" A pretty drawing, " he said, in a remarkably quiet tone 
of voice. 

'* Ah ? and done by such a pretty girl, *' said Arthur. 
" Oh, such a pretty girl ! I wish it was not a landscape ; 
I wish it was a portrait of her ! " 

" You admire her very much ? " 

Arthur, half in jest, half in earnest, kissed his hand for 
answer. 

" Love at first sight ! " he said, putting the drawing 
away again. ** But the course of it doesn't run smooth. 
It's the old story. She's monopolized as usual. Tram- 
meled by a rash engagement to some poor man who is 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 217 

never likely to get money .enough to marry her. It was 
lucky I heard of it in time, or I should certainly have 
risked a declaration when she gave me that drawing. 
Here, Doctor ! Here is pen, ink, and pap6r all ready for 
you. " 

" When she gave you that drawing ? Guve it. Gave 
it. " He repeated the words slowly to himself, and sudden- 
ly closed his eyes. A momentary distortion passed across 
his face, and I saw one of his hands clutch the bed-clothes 
and squeeze them hard. I thought he was going to be ill 
again, and begged that there might be no more talking. 
He opened his eyes when I spoke, fixed them once more 
searchiugly on Arthur, and said, slowly and distinctly, " You 
like her and she likes you. The poor man may die out 
of your way. Who can tell that she may not give you 
herself as well as her drawing, after all ? " 

Before young Holliday could answer, he turned to me, 
and said, in a whisper, " Now for the prescription. *' From 
that time, though he spoke to Arthur again, he never look- 
ed at him more. 

When I had written the prescription, he examined it, 
approved of it, and then astonished us both by abruptly 
wishing us good-night. I offered to sit up with him, and 
he shook his head. Arthur offered to sit up with him, and 
he said, shortly, with his face turned away, " No ! " I in- 
sisted on having somebody left to watch him. He gave 
way when he found I was determined, and said he would 
accept the services of the waiter at the inn. 

" Thank you both," he said, as we rose to go. " I have 
one favor to ask — ^not of you. Doctor, for I leave you to 
exercise your professional discretion — but of Mr.Holliday." 
His eyes, while he spoke, still rested steadily on me, and 
never turned toward Arthur. " I beg that Mr. Holliday will 
not mention to any one — ^least of all to his father — the events 
that have occurred and the words that have passed in this 



218 THE LAZT TOUR OF 

room. I entreat him to bury me in his memory, as, but 
for him, I might have been buried in my grave. I can- 
not give my reasons for making this strange request. I 
can only implore him to grant it." 

His voice faltered for the first time, and he hid liisface 
on the pillow. Arthur, completely bewildered, gave the 
required pledge. I took young Holliday away with me 
immediately afterward, to the house of my friend, deter- 
mining to go back to the inn, and to see the medical stu- 
dent again before he had left in the morning. 

I returned to the inn at eight o'clock, purposely abstain- 
ing from waking Arthur, who was sleeping ofF the past 
night's excitement on one of my friend's sofas. A suspi- 
cion had occurred to me, as soon as I was alone in my bed- 
room, which made me resolve that Holliday and the 
stranger, whose life he had saved, should not meet again, if 
I could prevent it. I have already alluded to certain re- 
ports, or scandals, which I knew of, relating to the early 
life of Arthur's father. * While I was thinking in my bed 
of what had passed at the inn — of the change in the stu- 
dent's pulse when he heard the name of Holliday ; of the 
resemblance of expression that I had discovered between 
his face and Arthur's ; of the emphasis he had laid on 
these three words, " my own brother ; " and of his incom- 
prehensible acknowledgment of his own illegitimacy — while 
I was thinking of these things, the reports I have mentioned 
suddenly flew into my mind and linked themselves fast 
to the chain of my previous reflections. Something within 
me whispered, " It is best that those two young men should 
not meet again." I felt it before I slept ; I felt it when I 
woke : and I went, as I told you, alone to the inn the next 
morning. 

I had missed my only opportunity of seeing my nameless 
patient again. He had been gone nearly an hour when I 
inquired for him. 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 219 

I have now told you everything that I know for certain 
in relation to the man whom I brought back to life in the 
double-bedded room of the Inn at Doncaster. What I 
have next to add is matter for inference and surmise, and 
is not, strictly speaking, matter of fact. 

I have to tell you, first, that the medical student tm*ned 
out to be strangely and unaccountably right in assuming it 
as more than probable that Arthur Holliday would marry 
the young lady who had given him the water-color draw 
ing of the landscape. That marriage took place a little 
more than a year after the events occurred which I have 
just been relating. The young couple came to live in the 
neighborhood in which I was then established in practice. 
I was present at the wedding, and was rather surprised to 
find that Arthur was singularly reserved with me, both 
before and after his marriage, on the subject of the young 
lady's prior engagement. He only referred to it once, 
when we were alone, merely telling me on that occasion 
that his wife had done all that honor and duty required 
of her in the matter, and that the engagement had been 
broken off with the full approval of her parents. I never 
heard more from him than this. For three years he and 
his wife lived together happily. At the expiration of that 
time the symptoms of a serious illness first declared them- 
selves in Mrs. Arthur Holliday. It turned out to be a 
long, lingering, hopeless malady. I attended her through- 
out. We had been great friends when she was well, and we 
became more attached to each other than ever when she 
was ill. I had many long and interesting conversations 
with her in the intervals when she suffered least. The 
result of one of those conversations I may briefly relate, 
leaving you to draw any inferences from it that you please. 

The interview to which I refer occurred shortly before 
her death. I called one evening, as usual, and found her 
alone, with a look in her eyes which told me that she had 



220 THE LAZT T0I7B OF 

been crying. She only informed me at first that she had 
been depressed in spirits : but by little and little she be- 
came more communicative, and confessed to me that she 
had been looking over some old letters which had been 
addressed to her before she had seen Arthur, by a man to 
whom she had been engaged to be married. I asked her 
how the engagement came to be broken off. She replied 
that it had not been broken off, but that it had died out 
in a very mysterious way. The person to whom she was 
engaged — her first love she called him — was very poor, 
and there was no immediate prospect of their being mar- 
ried. He followed my profession, and went abroad to 
study. They had corresponded regularly until the time 
when, as she believed, he had returned to England. From 
that period she heard no more of him. He was of a fret- 
ful, sensitive temperament ; and she feared that she might 
have inadvertently done or said something that offended 
him. However that might be, he had never written to her 
again ; and, after waiting a year, she had married Arthur. 
I asked when the first estrangement had begun, and found 
that the time at. which she ceased to hear anything of her 
first lover, exactly corresponded with the time at vv^hich I 
had been called in to my mysterious patient at The Two 
Robins Inn. 

A fortnight after that conversation, she died. In 
course of time Arthur married again. Of late years, he 
has lived principally in London, and I have seen Kttle or 
nothing of him. 

I have many years to pass over before I can approach 
to anything like a conclusion of this fragmentary narra- 
tive. And even when that later period is reached, the 
little that I have to say will not occupy your attention 
for more than a few minutes. Between six and seVeu 
years ago, the gentleman to whom I introduced you in 
this room came to me, with good professional recommend- 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 221 

ations, to fill the position of my assistant. We met, not 
like strangers, but like friends, the only difference between 
us being, that I was very much surprised to see him, and 
that he did not appear to be at all surprised to see me. 
If he was my son or my brother, I believe he could not 
be fonder of me than he is ; but he has never volunteered 
any confidences since he has been here on the subject of 
his past life. I saw something that was familiar to me 
in his face when we first met, and yet it was also some- 
thing that suggested the idea of change. I had a notion 
once that my patient at the Inn might be a natural son of 
Mr. Holliday's ; I had another idea that he might also 
have been the man who was engaged to Arthur's first 
wife ; and I have a third idea, still clinging to me, that 
Mr. Lorn is the only man in England who could really 
enlighten me, if he chose, on both those doubtful points. 
His hair is not black now, and his eyes are dimmer than 
the piercing eyes that I remember ; but, for all that, he 
is very like - the nameless medical student of my young 
days — ^very like him. And sometimes when I come 
home late at night, and find him asleep, and wake him, 
he looks, in coming to, wonderfully like the stranger at 
Doncaster as he raised himself in the bed on that memor- 
able night ! 

The Doctor paused. Mr. Goodchild, who had been 
following every word that fell from his lips up to this 
time, leaned forward eagerly to ask a question. Before 
he could say a word the latch of the door was raised 
without any warning sound of footsteps in the passage 
outside. A long, white, bony hand appeared through the 
opening, gently pushing the door, which was prevented 
from working freely on its hinges by a fold in the carpet* 
under it. 

" That hand ! Look at that hand, Doctor ! " said Mr. 
Goodchild, touching him. 



222 THE LAZY TOUR OF 

At the same moment the Doctor looked at Mr. Good- . 
child, and whispered to him, significantlj : " Hush! he 
has come back." 



CHAPTER THE THIRD. 

rilHE Cumberland Doctor's mention of Doncaster Races 
-■- inspired Mr. Francis Goodcliild with the idea of going 
down to Doncaster to see the races. Doncaster being a 
good way off, and quite out of the way of the Idle Ap- 
prentices (if anything could be out of their way, who 
had no way), it necessarily followed that Francis per- 
ceived Doncaster in the race-week to be, of all possible 
idlenesses, the particular idleness that would completely 
satisfy him. 

Thomas, with an enforced idleness grafted on the natu- 
ral and voluntary power of his disposition, was not of 
this mind ; objecting that a man compelled to He on his 
back on a floor, a sofa, a table, a line of chairs, or any- 
thing he could get to lie upon, was not in racing condi- 
tion, and that he desired nothing better than to lie where 
he was, enjoying himself in looking a-t tlM3 flies on the 
ceiling. But Francis Goodchild, who had been walking 
round his companion in a circuit of twelve miles for two 
days, and had begun to doubt whether it was reserved for 
him ever to be idle in his life, not only overpowered this 
objection, but even converted Thomas Idle to a scheme 
he formed (another idle inspiration), of conveying the 
said Thomas to the sea-coast, and putting his injured leg 
under a stream of salt-water. 

Plunging into this happy conception head-foremost, 
Mr. Goodcliild immediately referred to the county-map, 
and ardently discovered that the most delicious piece oi 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 223 

sea- coast to be found within the limits of England, Ireland, 
Scotland, Wales, the Isle of Man, and the Channel 
Islands, all summed up together, was Allonby on the 
coast of Cumberland. There was the coast of Scotland 
opposite to Allonby, said Mr. Goodchild with enthusi- 
asm ; there was a fine Scottish mountain on that Scottish 
coast; there were Scottish lights to be seen shining 
across the glorious Channel, and at Allonby itself there 
was every idle luxury (no doubt), that a watering-place 
could offer to the heart of idle man. Moreover, said Mr. 
Goodchild, with his finger on the map, this exquisite 
retreat was approached by a coach-road, from a railway 
station called Aspatria — a name, in a manner, suggestive 
of the departed glories of Greece, associated with one 
of the most engaging and most famous of Greek women. 
On this point, Mr. Goodchild continued at intervals to 
breathe a vein of classic fancy and eloquence exceedingly 
irksome to Mr. Idle, until it appeared that the honest 
English pronunciation of that Cumberland country short- 
ened Aspatria into " Spatter." After this supplementary 
discovery, Mr. Goodchild said no more about it. 

By way of Spatter, the crippled Idle was carried, 
hoisted, pushed, poked, and packed into and out of car- 
riages, into and out of beds, into and oat of tavern rest- 
ing-places, until he was brought at length within sniff of 
the sea. And now, behold the apprentices gallantly 
riding into Allonby in a one-horse fly, bent upon staying 
in that peaceful marine valley until the turbulent Doncas- 
ter time shall come round upon the wheel in its turn among 
what are in sporting registers called the " Fixtures " for 
the month. 

" Do you see Allonby ? " asked Thomas Idle. 

" I don't see it yet," said Francis, looking out of the 
window. 

" It must be there," said Thomas Idle. 



224 



THB LAZT TOUB OF 



" I don't see It," re^riied' Francis. 

" It must be there," repeated Thomas Idle, fretfully. 

** Lord bless me ! exclaimed Francis, drawing in hb 
head, '^ I suppose this is it ! " 

<* A watering-place," retorted Thomas Idle, with tho 
pardonable sharpness of an invalid, " can't be five gentle- 
men in straw hats on a form on one side of a door, and 
four ladies in hats and falls on a form on another side of 
a door, and three geese in a dirty little brook before them, 
and a boy's legs hanging over a bridge ( with a boy's body, 
I suppose, on the other side of the parapet), and a donkey 
running away. What are you talking about? " 

" Allonby, gentlemen," said the most comfortable of 
landladies, as she opened one door of the carriage ; '^ Al- 
lonby, gentlemen," said the most attentive of landlords, 
as he opened the other. 

Thomas Idle yielded his arm to the ready GreodchOd, 
and descended from the vehicle. Thomas, now just able 
to grope his way along, in a doubled up condition, with 
the aid of two thick sticks, was no bad embodiment of 
Commodore Trunnion, or of one of those many gallant 
Admirals of the stage, who have all ample fortunes, gout, 
thick sticks, tempers, wards, and nephews. With this 
distinguished naval appearance upon him, Thomas made a 
. crab-like progress up a clean little bulk-headed staircase, 
into a clean little biilk-headed room, where he slowly de- 
posited himself on a sofa, with a stick on either hand of 
him, looking exceedingly grim. 

" Francis," said Thomas Idle, " what do you think of 
this place ? " 

" I think," returned Mr. Groodchild, in a glowing way 
" it is everything we expected." 

<* Hah ! " said Thomas Idle. 

" There is the sea," cried Mr. Goodchild, pointing out 
of the window ; " and here," pointing to the lunch on the 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 225 

table, " are shrimps. Let us — " here Mr. Groodchild 
looked out of the wmdow, as if in search of something, 
and looked in again, — let us eat 'em." 

The shrimps eaten and the dinner ordered, Mr. Good- 
child went out to survey the watering-place. As Chorus 
of the Drama, without whom Thomas could make nothing 
of the scenery, he by-and-by returned to have the follow- 
ing report screwed out of him. 

In brief, it was the most delightful place ever seen. 
. " But," Thomas Idle asked, " whej'e i^ it ? " 

" It's what you may call generally up and down the 
beach, here and there," said Mr. Goodchild, with a twist 
of his hand. 

" Proceed," said Thomas Idle. 

It was, Mr. Goodchild went on to say, in cross-examin- 
ation, what you might call a primitive place. Large ? 
No, it was not large. Who ever expected it would be 
large ? Shape ? What a question to ask ! No shape. 
What sort of a street ? Why, no street. Shops ? Yes, 
of course ( quite indignant ). How many ? Who ever 
wen-t into a place to count the shops ? Ever so many. 
Six ? Perhaps. A library ? Why, of course ! ( indig- 
nant again ). Good collection of books ? Most likely — 
couldn't say — ^had seen nothing in it but a pair of scales. 
Any read-ing-room ? Of course there was a reading-room. 
Where? Where! why, over there. Where was over 
there ? Why, there ! Let Mr. Idle carry his eye to that 
bit of waste ground above high-water mark, where the 
rank grass and loose stones were most in a litter, and he 
would see a sort of a long ruinous brick loft, next door to 
a ruinous brick outhouse, which loft had a ladder outside 
to get up by. That was the reading-room, and if Mr. 
Idle didn't like the idea of a weaver's shuttle throbbing 
under a reading-room, that was his look out. He was not 
to dictate, Mr. Goodchild supposed (indignant again), 
to the companv. 



226 



THE LAZT TOUB OF 



" By-the-bye," Thomas Idle obserred; •«tfae 
puny ? " 

Well ! ( Mr. Goodchild went on to report) very niki 
company. Where were they ? Why, there they were: lb. 
Idle could see the tops of their hats, he supposed. What? 
Tliose nine hats, again, Gye gentlemen's and foor ladies'? 
Yes, to be sure. ]Mr. Goodchild hoped the oompai^ 
werenot to be expected to wear helmets, to pleaae lb 
Idle. 

Beginning to recover his temper at about this point, 

^ Mr. Goodchild voluntarily reported that if you wanted to 
be primitive, you could be primitive here, and that if yoo 
wanted to be idle, you could be idle here. In the course of 
some days, he added, that there were three fishing-boats, 

/ no rigging, and that there were plenty of fishermen who 
'never fished. That they got their living entirely by look- 
I'ing at the ocean. What nourishment they looked out ol 
it to support their strength, he couldn't say, but, he sup- 
posed it was some sort of Iodine. The place was full of 
their children, who were always upside down on the pub- 
lic buildings (two small bridges over the brook) ,and al- 
ways hurting themselves or one another, so that their 
wailings made more continual noise in the air tlian could 
have been got in a busy place. The houses people lodged 
in, were nowhere in pai'ticulai', and were in capital ac- 
cordance with the beach, being all more or less cracked 
and damaged as its shells were, and all empty — as its shells 
were. Among them, was an edifice of destitute appear- 
ance, with a number of wall-eyed windows in it, looking 
desperately out to Scotland, as if for help, which said it 
was a Bazaar (and it ought to know), and where you 
might buy anything you wanted — supposing what you 
wanted Wiis a little camj.>stool, or a child's wheelbarrow. 
The brook ci*awled or stopped between the houses and 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 227 

the sea, and the donkey was always runnmg away, and 
when he got into the brook he was pelted out with stones, 
which never hit him, and which always hit some of the 
children who were upside down on the public buildings, 
and made their lamentations louder. This donkey was 
the public excitement of Allonby, and was probably sup- 
/ ported at the public expense. 

The foregoing descriptions, delivered in separate items, 
on separate days of adventurous discovery, Mr. Goodchild 
severally wound up, by looking out of the window, looking 
in again, and saying, " But there is the sea, and here are 
the shrimps — ^let us eat 'em." 

There were fine sunsets at Allonby, when the low flat 
beach, with its pools of water and its dry patches, changed 
into long bars of silver and gold in various states of 
burnishing, and there were fine views — on fine days — of 
the Scottish coast. But, when it rained at Allonby, Allon- 
by, thrown back upon its ragged self, became a kind of 
place which the donkey seemed to have found out, and to 
have his highly sagacious reasons for wishing to bolt 
from. Thomas Idle observed, too, that Mr. Goodchild, 
with a noble show of disinterestedness, became every day 
more ready to walk to Maryport and back, for letters ; 
and suspicions began to harbor in the mind of Thomas 
that his friend deceived him, and that Maryport was a 
preferable place. 

Therefore, Thomas said to Francis, on a day when they 
had looked at the sea and eaten the shrimps, " My mind 
misgives me, Goodchild, that you go to Maryport, like 
the boy in the story-book, to ask it to be idle with you." 

'* Judge, then, " returned Francis, adopting the style of 
the story-book, ** with what success. I go to a region which 
is a bit of water-side Bristol, with a slice of Wapping, a 
seasoning of Wolverhampton, and a garnish of Ports- 
mouth, and I say, ' Will you come and be idle with me ? ' 



228 THE LAZT TOUB OF 

And it answers, ' No ; for I am a great deal too vaporoat, 
and a great deal too rusty, and a great deal too muddy, and t 
great deal too dirty altogether ; and I have ships to load, and 
pitch and tar to boil, and iron to hammer, and steam to 
get np, and smoke to make, and stone to quarry, and fifty 
other disagreeable things to do, and I can't be idle wili 
you.* Then I go into jagged up-hill and down-hill streets, 
where I am in the pastry-cook's shop at one moment, and 
lUext moment in sayage fastnesses of moor and morass, beyond 
the confines of civilization, and I say to those murky and 
black-dusty streets, ' Will you come and be idle with me ? ' 
To which they reply, ' No, we can't, indeed, for we haven't 
the spirits, and we are startled by the echo of your feet 
on the sharp pavement, and we have so many goods in 
our shop-windows which nobody wants, and we have so 
much to do for a limited public which never comes to ns 
to be done for, that we are altogether out of sorts and 
can't enjoy ourselves with any one.' So I go to the 
Post-office, and knock at the shutter, and I say to the Post 
master, * Will you come and be idle with me ? ' To which 
he rejoins, ' No, I really can't, for I live, as you may see, in 
such a very little Post-office, and pass my life behind such 
a very little shutter, that my hand, when I put it out, is 
as the hand of a giant crammed through the window of a 
dwarf's house at a fair and I am a mere Post-office an- 
chorite in a cell much too small for him, and I can't get 
out, and I can't get in, and I have no space to be idle in 
even if I would. So the boy," said Mr. Goodchild, con- 
cluding the tale, " comes back with the letters after all, 
and lives happy never afterwards." 

But it may, not unreasonably, be asked — while Francis 
Goodchild was wandering hither and thither, storing his 
mind with perpetual observation of men and things, and 
sincerely believing himself to be the laziest creature in 
existence all the time — ^how did Thomas Idle, crippled and 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 229 

confined to the house, contrive to get through the hours 
of the day ? 

iTrone on the sofa, Thomas made no attempt to get 
through the hours, but passively allowed the hours to 
get through him. Where other men in his situation would 
haviB read books and improved their minds, Thomas slept 
and rested his body. Where other men would have pon- 
dered anxiously over their future prospects, Thomas 
dreamed lazily of his past life. The one solitary thing 
he did, which most other people would have done in his 
place, was to resolve on making certain alterations and 
improvements in his mode of existence, as soon as the ef- 
fects of the misfortune that had overtaken him had all 
passed away. Remembering that the current of his life 
had hitherto oozed along in one smooth stream of laziness 
occasionally troubled on the surface by a slight passing 
ripple of industry, his present ideas on the subject of seK- 
reform, inclined him — not, as the reader may be disposed 
to imagine, to project schemes for a new existence of en- 
terprise and exertion — ^but, on» the contrary, to resolve 
that he would never, if he could possibly help it, be active 
or industrious again throughout the whole of his future 
l^areer. 

It is due to Mr. Idle to relate that his mind sauntered 
towards this peculiar conclusion on distinct and logically 
producible grounds. After reviewing, quite at his ease, 
and with many needful intervals of repose, the generally- 
placid spectacle of his past existence, he arrived at the 
discovery that all the great disasters which had tried his 
patience and equanimity in early life had been caused by 
his having allowed himself to be deluded into imitating 
some pernicious example of activity and industry that had 
been set him by others. The trials to which he here al- 
ludes where three in number, and may he thus reckoned 
up : First, the disaster of being an unpopular and a thrash- 
ed boy at school ; secondly the disaster of falling seriously 



280 THB LAZT TOUB OF 

ill ; tliinlly, the disaster of becoming acquainted with a 
gnMit lM>re. 

The first disaster occurred after Thomas had been an 
idlii and a popular boy at school for some happy years. 
One OhriHtnias-timc, he was stimulated by the evil ex- 
atnpK) of a companion, whom he had always trusted and 
liked, to ho untrue to liimself and to try for a prize at the 
ensuing half-yearly examination. lie did try^ and he got 
a prize — how, he did not distinctly know at the moment, 
and < 'an not ri'member now. No sooner, however, had the 
book — floral flints to the Young on the Value of Time 
— horn placed in liis hands, than the "first troubles of his 
life h(»g;in. Tlio idle boys deserted him, as a traitor to 
their cause. The industrious boys avoided him, as a danger- 
ous int(»rloper ; one of their number, who had always won 
tluj prize on previous occasions, expressing just resent- 
ment at the invasion of his privileges by calling Thomas 
into the play-ground, and then and there administering to 
him the first sound and genuino thrashing that he had re- 
ct^ivcd in his life. Unpopular from that moment, as a 
l)<\Hfcon hoy, who belonged to no side and was rejected by 
all j)arti(^s, young Idle soon lost caste with his masters, as 
h(i had previously lost caste with his school-fellows. He 
had forfeited the comfortable reputation of being the one 
lazy meml)er of the youthful community whom it was 
quit<^ hopeless to punish. Never again did he hear the 
head master say reproachfully to an industrious boy who 
had committed a fault, " I might have expected this in 
Thomas Idle, but it is inexcusal)le, sir, in you, who know 
bettor." Never more, after winning that fatal prize, did 
he escape the retributive imposition or the avenging 
birch. From that time, the masters made him work, and 
the boys would not let him play. From that time, his 
social position steadily declined, and his life at school be- 
came a perpetual burden to him. 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 231 

So, again, with the second disaster. While JThomas 
was lazy, he was a model of health. His first attempt at 
active exertion and his first suffering from severe illness 
are connected together by the intimate relations of cause 
and effect. Shortly after leaving school, he accompanied 
a party of friends to a cricket-field, in his natural and ap- 
propriate character of spectator only. On the ground, it 
was discovered that the players fell short of the required 
number, and facile Thomas was persuaded to assist in 
making up the complement. At a certain appointed 
time, he was roused from peaceful slumber in a dry ditch, 
and placed before three wickets with a bat in his hand. 
Opposite to him, behind three more wickets, stood one of 
his bosom friends, fQling the situation (as he was in- 
formed) of bowler. No words can describe Mr. Idle's 
horror and amazement when he saw this young man — on 
ordinary occasions the meekest and mildest of human 
beiiigs — suddenly contract his eyebrows, compress his lips, 
assume the aspect of an infuriated savage, run back a 
few steps, then run forward, and, without the slightest 
previous provocation, hurl a detestably hard ball with all 
his might straight at Thomas' legs. Stimulated to pre- 
ternatural activity of body and sharpness of eye by the 
instinct of self-preservation, Mr. Idle contrived, by jump- 
ing deftly aside at the right moment, and by using his bat 
(ridiculously narrow as it was for the purpose) as a 
shield, to preserve his life and limbs from the dastardly 
attack that had been made on both, to leave the full force 
of the deadly missile to strike his wicket instead of his 
leg ; and to end the innings, so far as his side was con. 
cemed, by being immediately bowled out. Grateful for 
his escape he was about to return to the dry ditch, when 
he was peremptorily stopped, and told that the other side 
was " going in, " and that he was expected to " field.*' 

His conception of the whole art and mystery of " field- 

10* 



1 



282 THE LAZY TOIJB OF 

ing, " i^ay be summed up in three words of serious advioe 
which he privately administered to himself on that trying 
occasion — avoid the ball. Fortified by this sound and 
salutary principle, he took his own course, impervious 
alike to ridicule and abuse. Whenever the ball came 
near him, he thought of his shins, and got out of the way 
immediately. " Catch it ! " " Stop it ! " " Pitch it up ! " 
were cries that passed by him like the idle wind that he 
regarded not. He ducked under it, he jumped over it, 
he whisked himseK away from it on either side. Never 
once, throughout the whole innings, did. he and the ball 
come together on anything approaching to intimate terms. 
The unnatural activity of llody which was necessarily 
called forth for the accomplishment of this result threw 
Thomas Idle, for the first time in his life, into a perspira- 
tion. The perspiration, in consequence of his want of 
practice in the management of that particular result of 
bodily activity, was suddenly checked ; the inevitable chill 
succeeded ; and that, in its turn, was followed by a fever. 
For the first time since his birth, Mr. Idle found himself 
confined to his bed for many weeks together, wasted and 
worn by a long illness, of which his own disastrous 
muscular exertion had been the sole first cause. 

The third occasion on which Thomas found reason to 
reproach himself bitterly for the mistake of havhig at- 
tempted to be industrious, was connected with his choice 
of a calling in life. Having no interest in the Church, 
he appropriately selected the next best profession for a 
lazy man in England — the Bar. Although the Benchers 
of the Inns of Court have lately abandoned their good 
old principles, and oblige their students to make some 
show of studying, in Mr. Idle's time no such innovation 
as this existed. Young men who aspired to the honor 
able title of barrister were, very properly, not asked to 
learn anything of the law, but were merely required to 



OF TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 233 

eat a certain number of dinners at the table of their Hall, 
and to pay a certain sum of money ; and were called to 
the Bar as soon as they could prove that they had suffic- 
iently complied with these extremely sensible regulations. 
Never did Thomas move more harmoniously in concert 
with his elders and betters than when he was qualifying 
himself for admission among the barristers of his native 
country. Never did he feel more deeply what real lazi- 
ness was in all the serene majesty of its nature, than on 
the memorable day when he was called to the bar, after 
having carefully abstained from opening his law-books 
during his period of probation, except to fall asleep over 
them. How he. could ever again have become indus- 
trious, even for the shortest period, after that great re- 
ward conferred upon his idleness, quite passes his compre- 
hension. The kind benchers did everything they could 
to show him the folly of exerting himseK. They wrote 
out his probationary exercise for him, and never expected 
him even to take the trouble of reading it through when 
it was written. They invited him, with seven other 
choice spirits as lazy as himself, to come and be called to 
the bar, while they were sitting over their wine and fruit 
after dinner. They put his oaths of allegiance, and his 
dreadful official denunciations of the Pope and the Pre- 
tender so gently into his mouth, that he hardly knew how 
the words got there. They wheeled all their chairs 
softly round from the table, and sat surveying the young 
barristers with their backs to their bottles, rather than 
stand up, or adjourn to hear the exercises read. And 
when Mr. Idle and the seven unlaboring neophytes, 
ranged in order, as a class, with their backs considerately 
placed against a screen, had begun, in rotation, to read 
the exercises which they had not written, even then, each 
Bencher, true to the great lazy principle of the whole 
proceeding, stopped each neophyte before he had stam- 



"S 



284 THE LAZY TOUB OF 

mered through his first line, and bowed to himy and told 
him politely that he was a barrister from that moment 
This was all the ceremony. It was followed by a social 
supper, and by the presentation, in accordance with an- 
cient custom, of a pound of sweetmeats and a bottle of 
Maderia, offered in the way of needful refreshment, by 
each grateful neophyte to each beneficent Bencher. It 
may seem inconceivable that Thomas should ever have 
forgotten the great do-nothing principle instilled by such 
a ceremony as this ; but it is, nevertheless, true, that 
certain designing students of industrious habits found him 
out, took advantage of his easy humor, persuaded him 
that it was discreditable to be a barrister and to know 
nothing whatever about the law, and lured him by the 
force of their own evil example, into a conveyancer's 
chambers, to make up for lost time, and to qualify him- 
self for practice at the Bar. After a fortnight of self- . 
delusion, the curtain fell from his eyes ; he resumed his 
natural character, and shut up his books. But the re- 
tribution which had hitherto always followed his little 
casual errors of industry followed them still. He could 
get away from the conveyancer's chambers, but he could 
not get away from one of the pupils, who had taken a 
fancy to him, — a tall, serious, raw-boned, hard-working, 
disputatious pupil, with ideas of his own about reforming 
the Law of Real Property, who has been the scourge of 
Mr. Idlers existence ever since the fatal day when he fell 
into the mistake of attempting to study the law. Before 
that time his friends were all sociable idlers like himself* 
Since that time, the burden of bearing with a hard-working 
young man has become part of his lot in life. Go where 
he will now, he can never feel certain that the raw-boned 
pupil is not affectionately waiting for him round a corner, 
to tell him a little more about the Law of Real Property. 
Suffer as he may under the infliction, he can never com* 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 235 

plain, for he must always remember, with unavailing re- 
gret, that he has his own thoughtless industry to thank 
for first exposing him to the great social calamity of 
knowing a bore. 

These events of his past life, with the significant result 
that they brought about, pass drowsily through Thomas 
Idle's memory, while he lies alone on the sofa at Allonby 
and elsewhere, dreaming away the time which his fellow 
apprentice gets through so actively out of doors. Re- 
membering the lesson of laziness which his past disasters 
teach, and bearing in mind also the fact that he is crippled 
in one leg because he exerted himself to go up a moun- 
tain, when he ought to have known that his proper course 
of conduct was to stop at the bottom of it, he holds now, 
and will for the future firmly continue to hold, by his 
new resolution never to be industrious again, on any pre- 
tence whatever, for the rest of his life. The physical re- 
sults of his accident have been related in a previous 
chapter. The moral results now stand on record ; and, 
with the enumeration of these, that part of the present 
narrative which is occupied by the Episode of The Sprain- 
ed Ankle, may now perhaps be considered, in all its as- 
pects, as finished and complete. 

" How do you propose that we get through this present 
afternoon and evening?" demanded Thomas Idle, after 
two or three hours of the foregoing refiections at Allon- 

by. 

Mr. Goodchild faltered, looked out of the window, 
looked in again, and said, as he had so often said before, 
" There is the sea, and here are the shrimps ; — let us eat 
'em ! " 

But, the wise donkey was at that moment in the act of 
bolting ; not with the irresolution of his previous efforts 
which had been wanting in sustained force of character, 
but with real vigor of purpose : shaking the dust off his 



236 THE LAZY TOUB OF 

mane and hind feet at Allonby, and tearing away irom it, 
as if he had nobly made up his mind that he never woidd 
be taken alive. At sight of this inspiring spectacle, which 
was visible from his sofa, Thomas Idle stretched his neck 
and dwelt upon it rapturously. 

" Francis Goodchild," he then said, turning to his com- 
panion with a solemn air, " this is a delightful little Inn, 
excellently kept by the most comfortable of landladies and 

the most attentive of landlords, but the donkey's 

right ! " 

The words, " There is the sea, and here are the ," 
again trembled on the lips of Goodchild, unaccompanied 
however by any sound. 

" Let us instantly pack the portmanteaus," said Thom- 
as Idle, '* pay the bill, and order a fly out, with instruc- 
tions to the driver to follow the donkey ! " 

Mr. Goodchild, who had only wanted encouragement to 
disclose the real state of his feeling, and who had been 
pining beneath his weary secret, now burst into tears, and 
confessed that he thought another day in the place would 
be the death of him. 

So, the two idle apprentices followed the donkey until 
the night was far advanced. Whether he was recaptur- 
ed by the town-council, or is bolting at this hour through 
the United Kingdom, they know not. They hope he 
may be still bolting; if so, their best wishes are with 
him. 

It entered Mr Idle's head, on the borders of Cumber- 
land, that there could be no idler place to stay at, except 
by snatches of a few minutes each, than a railway station. 
'* An intermediate station on a line — a junction — any- 
thing of that sort," Thomas suggested. Mr. Goodchild ap- 
proved of the idea as eccentric, and they journeyed on and 
on, until they came to such a station where there was 
an Inn. 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 237 

" Here," said Thomas, " we may be luxuriously lazy ; 
other people will travel for us, as it were, and we shall 
laugh at their folly.'* 

It was a Junction-Station, where the wooden razors 
before mentioned shaved the air very often, and where 
the sharp electric-telegraph bell was in a very restless 
condition. All manner of cross-lines of rails came zigzag- 
ing into it, like a Congress of iron vipers ; and, a little 
way out of it, a pointsman in an elevated signal-box was 
constantly going through the motions of drawing immense 
quantities of beer at a public-house bar. In one direction, 
confused perspectives of embankments and arches were to 
be seen from the platform ; in the other, the rails soon 
disentangled themselves into two tracts, and shot away 
under a bridge, and curved round a corner. Sidings 
were there, in which empty luggage-vans and cattleboxes 
often butted against each other as if they couldn't agree; 
land warehouses were there, in which great quantities 
'of goods seemed to have taken the veil (of the con- 
|sistency of tarpaulin), and to have retired from the 
world without any hope of getting back to it. Re- 
freshment-rooms were there; one, for the hungry and 
thirsty Iron Locomotives, where their coke and water 
were ready, and of good quality ; for they were dangerous 
to play tricks with ; the other, for the hungry and thirs- 
ty human Locomotive who might take what they could 
get, and whose chief consolation was provided in the 
form of three terrific urns or vases of white metal, con- 
taining nothing, each forming a breastwork for a defiant 
and apparently much injured woman. 

Established at this Station, Mr. Thomas Idle, and Mr. 
Francis Groodchild resolved to enjoy it. But its con- 
trasts were very violent, and there was also an infection 
in it. 

First, as to its contrasts. They were only two, but they 



•1 



288 THE LAZT TOIJB OF 

were Lethargy and Madness. The Station was either 
totally unconscious or, wildly raving. By day, in its un- 
conscious state it looked as if no life could come to it — 
as if it were all rust, dust, and ashes — ^as if the last train 
for ever had gone without issuing any Return Tickets — 
as if the last Engine had uttered its last shriek and burst 
One awkward shave of the air from the wooden razor, 
and everything changed. Tight office-doors flew open, pan- 
els yielded, books, newspapers, travelling-caps and wrap- 
pers broke out of brick walls; money chinked, convey- 
ances oppressed by nightmares of luggage came careerii^ 
into the yard, porters started up from secret places, ditto 
the much-injured women, the shining bell, who lived in 
a little tray on stilts by himself, flew into a man's 
hand and clamored violently. The pointsman aloft in 
the signal-box made the motions of drawing, with some 
difficulty, hogsheads of beer. Down Train ! More beer. 
Up Train ! More beer. Cross Junction Train ! More beer. 
Cattle Train I More beer. Goods Train ! Simmering, whist- 
ling, trembling, rumbling, thundering. Trains on the whole 
confusion of intersecting rails, crossing one another, back- 
ing to go forward, tearing into distance to come close. 
People frantic. Exiles seeking restoration to their native 
carriages, and banished to remoter climes. More beer 
and more bell. Then, in a minute, the Station relapsed 
into stupor as the stoker of the Cattle Train, the last 
to depart, went gliding out of it, wiping the long nose of 
his oil-can with a dirty pocket-handkerchief. 

By night, in its unconscious state, the Station was not 
so much as visible. Something in the air, like an enter- 
prising chemist established in business on one of the 
boughs of Jack's beanstalk, was all that could be dis- 
cerned of it under the stars. In a moment it would 
break out, a constellation of gas. In another moment, 
wenty rival chemists on twenty rival beanstalks, into 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 239 

existence. Then the Furies would be seen, waving their 
lurid torches up and down the confused perspectives of 
enbankments and arches — would be heard too, wail- 
ing and shrieking. Then, the Station would be full of 
palpitating trains, as in the day ; with the heightening 
difference they were not so clearly seen as in the day, 
whereas the station walls, starting forward under the gas, 
like a hippopotamus's eyes dazzled the human locomotives 
with the sauce-bottle, the cheap music, the bedstead, the 
distorted range of buildings where the patent safes are 
made, the gentleman in the registered umbrella, the lady 
returning from the ball with the registered respirator, 
and all their other embellishments, and now, the human 
locomotives, creased as to their countenances, and pur- 
blind as to their eyes, would swarm forth in a heap, ad- 
dressing themselves to the mysterious urns and the much- 
injured women ; while the iron locomotives-, dripping fire 
and water, shed their steam about plentifully, making the 
dull oxen in their cages, with heads depressed, and foam 
hanging from their mouths as their red looks glanced fear- 
fully at the surrounding terrors, seem as though they had 
been drinking at half-frozen waters and were hung with 
icicles. Through the same steam would be caught glimp- 
ses of their fellow-travelers, the sheep, getting their white 
kid faces together, away from the bars, and stuffing the 
interstices with trembling wool. Also, down among the 
wheels, of the man with the sledge-hammer, ringing the 
axles of the fast night-train against whom the oxen have 
a misgiving that he is the man with the pole-axe, who is 
to come by-and-by, and so the nearest of them try to 
back, and get a purchase for a thrust at him through the 
the bars. Suddenly the bell would ring, the steam would 
stop with one hiss and a yell, the chemists on the bean- 
stalks would be busy, the avenging Furies would bestir 
themselves, and the fast night-trains would melt from eye 
^ 11 



210 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

aiid oar, the other trains going their ways more slowly, 
would 1m3 heard faintly rattling in the distance like old- 
fashioned watches running down, the sauce-bottle and 
cheap music retired from view, even the bedstead went 
to bed, and there was no such visible thing as the Station 
to vex the cool wind, in its blowing, or perhaps the 
autumn lightning, as it found out the iron rails. 

The infection of the Station was this : — When it was 
in its raving state, the Apprentices found it impossible to 
be there, without laboring under the delusion that they 
were in a hurry. To Mr. Goodchild, whose ideas of idle- 
ness were so imperfect, this was no unpleasant hallucin- 
ation, and, accordingly, that gentleman went through great 
exertions in yielding to it, and running up and down the 
platform, jostling everbody, under the impression that he 
had a highly important mission somewhere, and had not 
a moment to lose. But, to Thomas Idle, this contagioil 
was so very unacceptable an incident of the situation, 
that ho struck on the fourth day, and requested to be 
removed. 

*^ This place fills me with a dreadful sensation," said 
Thomas," of having something to do. Remove me, 
Francis. '* 

" Where would you like to go next ? " was the question 
of the ever cnfra<;in2 Goodchild. 

" I have heard there is a good old Inn at Lancaster, 
established in a fine old house : an Inn where they give 
you Bride-cake every day after dinner," said Thomas 
Idle. " Let us eat Bride-cake without the trouble of 
being married, or of knowing anybody in that ridiculous 
dilemma." 

Mr. Goodchild, with a lover's sigh, assented. They 
departed from the Station in a violent hurry (for which 
it in unnecessary to observe, there was not the least occa- 
sion), and were delivered at the fine old house at Lancas- 
ter, on the same night. 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 241 

It is Mr. Goodchild's opinion, that if a visitor on his 
arrival at Lancaster could be accommodated with a pole 
which would push the opposite side of the street some 
yards farther off, it would be better for all parties. Pro- 
testing against being required to live in a trench, and 
obliged to speculate all day upon what the people can 
possibly be doing within a mysterious opposite window, 
which is a shop window to look at, but not a shop window 
in respect of its offering nothing for sale and declining to 
give any account whatever of itself, Mr. Goodchild 
concedes Lancaster to be a pleasant place. A place 
dropped in the midst of a charming landscape, a place 
with a fine ancient fragment of castle, a place of lovely 
walks, a place possessing staid old houses richly fitted 
with old Honduras mahogany, which has grown so dark 
with time that it seems to have got something of a retro- 
spective mirror quality into itself, and to show the visitor, 
in the depths of its grain, through all its polish, the hue 
of the wretched slaves who groaned long ago under old 
Lancaster merchants. And Mr. Goodchild adds that the 
stones of Lancaster do sometimes whisper, even yet, of 
rich men passed away — ^upon whose great prosperity some 
of these old doorways frowned sullen in the brightest 
weather — that their slave-gain turned to curses, as the 
Arabian Wizard's money turned to leaves, and that no 
good ever came of it, even unto the third and fourth gene- 
rations, until it was wasted and gone. 

It was a gallant sight to behold, the Sunday procession 
of the Lancaster elders to Church — all in black,- and 
looking fearfully like a funeral without the Body — under 
the escort of Three Beadles. 

" Think," said Francis, as he stood at the Inn window, 
admiring, " of being taken to the sacred edifice by three 
Beadles ! I have, in my early time, been taken out of it 
by one Beadle ; but to be taken into it by three, O Thomas, 
is a distinction I shall never enjoy ! " 



242 THE LAZY TOUR OF 

CHAPTER THE FOURTH. 

WHEN Mr. Goodchild had looked out of the Lan- 
caster Inn-window for two hours on end, with great 
perseverance, he began to entertain a misgiving that he 
was growing industrious. He therefore set himself next, 
to explore the country from the tops of all the steep hills 
in the neighborhood. 

He came back at dinner-time, red and glowing, to tell 
Thomas Idle what he had seen. Thomas, on his back 
reading, listened with great composure, and asked him 
whether he really had gone up those hills, and bothered 
himself with those views, and walked all those miles ? 

" Because I want to know," added Thomas, " what you 
would say of it, if you were obliged to do it ? " 

" It would be different then," said Francis. " It would 
be work, then ; now, it's play." 

" Play !" repeated Thomas Idle, utterly repudiating the 
reply. " Play ! Here is a man goes systematically tearing 
himself to pieces, and putting himself through an incessant 
course of training, as if he were always under articles to 
fight a match for the champion's belt, and he calls it Play ! 
Play !" exclaimed Thomas Idle, scornfully contemplating 
his one boot in the air. " You cavHt play. You don't 
know what it is. You make work of everything." 

The bright Goodchild amiably smiled. 
/ ^* So you do," said Thomas, " I mean it. To me, you 
are an absolutely terrible fellow. You do nothing like 
ailother man. Where another fellow would fall into a 
footbath of action or emotion you fall into a mine. Where 
any other fellow would be a painted butterfly, you are a 
fiery dragon. Where another man would stake a sixpence, 
you stake your existence. If you were to go up in a bal- 
loon, you would make for Heaven ; and if you were to dive 
into the depths of the earth, nothing short of the other 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 243 

place would content you. What a fellow you are, 
Francis ! " 

The cheerful Goodchild laughed. 

" It's all very well to laugh, but I wonder you don't feel 
it to be serious ," said Idle. " A man who can do nothing 
by halves appears to me to be a fearful man. 

" Tom, Tom," returned Goodchild, " If I can do noth- 
ing by halves, and be nothing by halves, it's pretty clear 
that you must take me as a whole and make the best of 
me." 

With this philosophical rejoinder, the airy Goodchild 
clapped Mr. Idle on the shoulder in a final manner, and 
they set down to dinner. 

" By the bye," said Goodchild, " I have been over a lu- 
natic asylum too, since I have been out." • 

" He has been," exclaimed Thomas Idle, casting 
up his eyes, " over a lunatic asylum ! Not content with 
being as great an Ass as Captain Barclay in the pedes- 
trian way, he makes a Lunacy Commissioner of himself 
— ^for nothing ! " 

"An immense place," said Goodchild, "admirable 
offices, very good arrangements, very good attendants ; 
altogether a remarkable place." 

*^ And what did you see there ? " asked Mr. Idle, 
adapting Hamlet's advice to the occasion, and assuming 
the virtue of interest, thouorh he had it not. 

"The usual thing," said Francis Goodchild, with a 
sigh. " Long groves of blighted men-and-women-trees ; 
interminable avenues of hopeless faces ; numbers without 
the slightest power of really combining for any earthly 
purpose ; a society of human creatures who have noth- 
ing in common but that they have all lost the power of • 
being humanly social with one another." 

" Take a glass of wine with me," said Thomas Idle, 
" and let us be social." 



244 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

" In one gallery, Tom," pursued Francis Groodchild, 
<* which looked to me about the length of the Long Walk 
at Windsor, more or less — " 

" Probably less," observed Thomas Idle. 

" In one gallery, which was otherwise quite clear of 
patients (for they were all out), there was a poor little 
dark-chinned, meagre man, with a perplexed brow and a 
pensive face, stooping low over the matting on the floor, 
and picking out with his thumb and fore-finger the course 
of its fibres. The afternoon sun was slanting in at the large 
end-window, and there were cross patches of light and 
shade all down the vista, made by the unseen windows 
and the open doors of the little sleeping cells on either 
side. In about the centre of the perspective, under an 
arch, regardless of the pleasant weather, regardless of the 
solitude, regardless of approaching footsteps, was the poor 
little dark-chinned, meagre man, poring over the matting. 
* What are you doing there V said my conductor when we 
came to him. lie looked up and pointed to the matting. ' I 
wouldn't do that, I think,' said my conductor, kindly ; ' if 
I were you, I would go and read, or I would lie down 
if I felt tired; but I wouldn't do that.' — The patient con- 
sidered a moment and vacantly answard, ' No, feir, I 
won't ; I'll — I'll go and read,* and so he lamely shuffled 
away into one of the little rooms. I turned my head be- 
fore we had gone many paces, lie had already come 
out again, and was again poring over the matting, and 
tracking out its fibres with his thumb and fore-finger. I 
stopped to look at him, and it came into my mind, that 
probably the course of those fibres as they plaited in 
and out, over and under, was the only course of things in 
the whole wide world that it was left to him to under- 
stand — that his darkeninof intellect had narrowed down 
to the small cleft of light which showed him, ' This piece 
was twisted this way, went in here, passed under, came 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 245 

out there, was carried X>n away here to the right where I 
now put my finger on it, and in this progress of events, 
the thing was made and came to be here.' Then I won- 
dered whether he looked into the matting, next, to see if it 
could show him anything of the process through which he 
came to be there, so strangely poring over it. Then, I 
thought how all of us, God help us ! in our different ways 
are poring over our bits of matting, blindly enough, and 
what confusions and mysteries we make in the pat- 
tern. I had a sadder fellow-feeling with the little dark- 
chinned, meagre man, by that time, and I came away." 
Mr. Idle diverting the conversation to grouse, custards, 
and bride-cake, Mr. Goodchild followed in the same direc- 
tion. The bride-cake was as bilious and indigestible as if 
a real Bride had cut it, and the dinner it completed, was 
an admirable performance. 

The house was a genuine old house of a very quaint des- 
cription, teeming with old carvings, and beams, and pan- 
els, and having an excellent old staircase, with a gallery 
or upper staircase, cut off from it by a curious fence-work 
of old oak, or of the old Honduras mahogany wood. It 
was, and is, and will be, for many a long year to come, a 
remarkably picturesque house ; and a certain grave mysteriC 
lurking in the depth of the old mahogany panels, as if they 
were so many deep pools of dark water — such, indeed, as 
they had been much among when they were trees — ^gave 
it a very mysterious character after nightfall. 

When Mr. Goodchild and Mr. Idle had first alighted at 
the door, and stepped into the sombre handsome old hall, 
they had been received by half-a-dozen noiseless old men 
in black, all dressed exactly alike, who glided up the stairs 
with the obliging landlord and waiter — but without appear- 
ing to get into their way, or to mind whether they did or 
no— and who had filed off to the right and left on the old 
staircase as the guests entered their sitting-room. It was 



21 G 



THE LAZY TOUR OP 



then broad, bright day. But, Mr. Goodchild had said, 
Avhon their door was shut, " Who on earth are these old 
nuMi ? " And afterwards, both on going out and coming 
in, he had noticed that there were no old men to be seen. 
Neither had the old men, or any one of the old men, 
reappeared since. The two friends had passed a night in 
the house, but ha^l seen nothing more of the old men. Mr. 
Goodchild, in rambling about it, had looked along pas- 
sages, and glanced in at doorways, but had encountered no 
old men ; neither did it appear that any old men were, by 
any member of the establishment, missed or expected. 

Another odd circumstance impressed itself on their at- 
tention. It was, that the door of their sitting-room was 
never left untouched for a quarter of an hour. It was 
opened with hesitation, opened with confidence, opened a 
little way, opened a good way, always clapped to again 
without a word of explanation. They were reading, they 
were writing, they were eating, they were drinking, they 
were talking, they were dozing ; the door was always open- 
ed at an unexpected moment, and tliey looked towards it, 
and it was clap])e(l to again, and nobody was to be seen. 
AVhen this had happened fifty times or so, Mr. Goodchild 
h.'id said to his companion, jestini,^ly : " I begin to think, 
Tom, there was something wrong about those six old 



men. 



>> 



Night had come again, and they had been writing for 
' two or three hours ; waiting, in short, a portion of the lazy 
notes from wliich these lazy sheets are taken. They had 
left oil writnig, and glasses were on the table between 
thorn. The liouse was closed and quiet, and the town was 
(jiiiet. Around the head of Thomas Idle, as he lay upon 
his sofa, hovered lii^ht wreaths of fracrrant smoke. The 
temples of Francis Good(;liild, as he leaned back in his 
chair, with his two hands clasped behind his head, and his 
legs crossed, were similarly decorated. 



TWO IDLE ArrRENTICES. < 247 

They^had been discussing several idle subjects of spec- 
ulation, not omitting the strange old men, and were still 
so occupied, when Mr. Goodchild abruptly changed his 
attitude to wind up his watch. They were just becoming 
drowsy enough to be stopped in their talk by any such 
slight check. Thomas Idle, who was speaking at the mo- * 
ment, paused and said, " How goes it ? " 

'' One, '' said GoodchHd. 

As if he had ordered One old man, and the order were 
promptly executed (truly, all orders were so, in that excel- 
lent hotel), the door opened, and One old man stood there. 

He did not come in, but stood with the door in his 
hand. 

" One of the six, Tom, at last ! " said Mr. Goodchild, in 
a surprised whisper.— r-" Sir, your pleasure ? " 

" Sir, ^our pleasure ? " said the One old man. 

" I didn't ring. " 

" The Bell did, " said the One old man. 

He said Bell, in a deep strong way, that would have 
expressed the church Bell. 

" I had the pleasure, I believe, of seeing you, yester- 
day ? '* said Goodchild. 

" I cannot undertake to say for certain, *' was the grim 
reply of the One old man. 

" I think you saw me ? Did you not ? " 

*^ Saw you ?" said the old man. " Oh, yes, I saw you. 
But, I see many who never see me. " 

A chilled, slow, earthy, fixed old man. A cadaverous 
old man of measured speech. An old man who seemed as 
unable to wink, as if his eyelids had been nailed to his 
forehead. An old man whose eyes — two spots of fire — 
had no more motion than if they had been connected with 
the back of his skull by screws driven through itj and riv- 
eted and bolted outside, among his gray hair. 

The night had turned so cold, to Mr. Goodchild's sensa- 



248 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

tioiis, that he shivered. He remarked lightly, and half apo- 
logetically, " I think somebody is walking over my grave." 

'iNo, *' said the weird old man, " there is no one there." 

Mr. Goodchild looked at Idle, but Idle lay with his head 
enwreathed in smoke. 

" No one there ? " said Goodchild. 

" There is no one at your grave, I assure you, " said the 
old man. 

He had come in and shut the doof, and he now sat 
down. He did not bend himself to sit, as other people do, 
but seemed to sink bolt upright, as if in water, until the 
chair stopped him. 

" My friend, Mr. Idle, " said Goodchild, extremely anx- 
ious to introduce a third person into the conversation. 

"I am,'* said the old man, without looking at him, 
" at Mr. Idle's service.'' 

" If you are an old inhabitant of this place," Francis 
Goodchild resumed : 

" Yes." 
— " Perhaps you can decide a point my friend and I were 
in doubt upon, this morning. They hang condemned 
criminals at the Castle, I believe ? " 

" I believe so," said the old man. 

" Are their faces turned towards that noble prospect ? " 

** Your face is turned," replied the old man, " to the 
Castle wall. When you are tied up, you see its stones 
expanding and contracting violently, and a similar expan- 
sion and contraction seem to take place in your own head 
and breast. Then, there is a rush of fire and an earth- 
quake, and the Castle springs into the air, and you tumble 
'down a precipice." 

His cravat appeared to trouble him. He put his hand 
to his throat, and moved his neck from side to side. 
He was an old man of a swollen character of face and 
his nose was immovably hitched up on one. side, as if by 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 249 

a little hook inserted in the nostril. Mr. Goodchild felt 
exceedingly uncomfortable, and began to think the night 
was hot, and not cold. 

" A strong description, sir," lie observed. 

" A strong sensation," the old man rejoined. 

Again, Mr. Goodchild to Mr. Thomas Idle ; but, Thom- 
as lay on his back with his face attentively turned towards 
the One old man, and made no sign. At this time, Mr. 
Goodchild believed that he saw two threads of fire stretch 
from the old man's eyes to his own, and there attach them- 
selves. (Mr. Goodchild writes the present account of 
his experience, and with the utmost solemnity, protests 
that he had the strongest sensation upon him of being 
forced to look at the old man along those two fiery films- 
from that moment.) 

" I must tell it to you," said the old man, with a ghast, 
ly and a stony stare. 

" What ? " asked Francis Goodchild. 

" You know where it took place. Yonder ! " 

Whether he pointed to the room above, or to the room 
below, or to any room in that old house, or to a room in 
some other old house in that old town, IVIr. Goodchild 
was not, nor is, nor ever can be, sure. He was confused 
by the circumstance that the right fore-finger of the One 
old man seemed to dip itself in one of the threads of fire, 
light itself, and make a fiery start in the air, as it pointed 
somewhere. — Having pointed somewhere, it went out- 

You know she was a Bride," said the old man. 

" I know they still send up Bride-cake," Mr. Goodchild 
faltered. " This is a very oppressive air." 

" She was a bride," said the old man. " She was a faii^ 
flaxen-haired, large eyed girl, who had no character, no 
purpose. A weak, credulous, incapable, helpless nothing. 
Not like her mother. No, no. It was her father whose 
character she reflected. 



250 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

" Her mother had taken care to secure everything to 
herself, for her own life, when the father of this girl (a 
child at that time) died— of sheer helplessness ; no other 
disorder — and then He renewed the acquaintance that had 
once subsisted between the mother and him. He had 
been put aside for the flaxen-haired, large-eyed man (or 
nonentity) with Money. He could overlook that for 
Money. He wanted compensation in Money. 

" So, he returned to the side of that woman the mother, 
made love to her again, danced attendance on her, and 
submitted himself to her whims. ' She wreaked upon him 
every whim she had, or could invent. He bore it. And 
the more he bore, the more he wanted compensation in 
Money, and the more he was resolved to have it. 

** But lo ! Before he got it, she cheated him. In one 
of her imperious states, she froze, and never thawed 
again. She put her hands to her head one night, uttered 
a cry, stiffened, lay in that attitude certain hours, and 
died. And he had got no compensation from her in 
Money, yet. Blight and Murrain on her ! Not a penny. 

" He had hated her throughout that second pursuit, and 
had longed for retaliation on her. He now counterfeited 
her signature to an instrument, leaving all she had to 
leave, to her daughter — ten years old then — to whom the 
property passed absolutely, and appointing himself the 
daughter's Guardian. When He slid it under the pillow 
of the bed on which she lay, He bent down in the deaf 
ear of Death, and whispered : ' Mistress Pride, I have de- 
termined a long time that, dead or alive, you must make 
compensation in Money.' 

» '* So, now there were only two left. Which two were, 
He, and the fair flaxen-haired, large-eyed foolish daugh- 
ter, who afterwards became the Bride. 

" He put her to school. In a secret, dark, oppressive, 
ancient house, he put her to school with a watchful and 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 251 

unscrupulous woman. — * My worthy lady/ he said, * here 
is a mind to be formed ; will you help me to form it ? ' 
She accepted the trust. For which she, too, wanted com- 
pensation in Money, and had it. 

" The girl was formed in the fear of him, and in the 
conviction, thai> there was no escape from him. She was 
taught, from the first, to regard him as her future husband 
— the man who must marry her — the destiny that over- 
shadowed her — the appointed certainty that could never 
be evaded. The poor fool was soft white wax in their 
hands, and took the impression that they put upon her. 
It hardened with time. It became a part of herself. In- 
separable from herself, and only to be torn away from 
her, by tearing life away from her. 

" Eleven years she lived in the dark house and its 
gloomly garden. He was jealous of the very light and air 
getting to her, and they kept her close. He stopped the 
wide chimneys, shaded the little windows, left the strong 
stemmed ivy to wander where it would over the house front, 
the moss to accumulate on the untrimmed fruit trees in the 
red walled garden, the weeds to over-run its green and 
yellow walks. He surrounded her with images of sorrow 
and desolation. He -caused her to be filled with fears of 
the place and of the stories that were told of it, and 
then on pretext of correcting them, to be left in 
it in solitude, or made shrink about it in the dark. When 
her mind was most depressed and fullest of terrors, then, 
he would come out of one of the hiding-places from which 
he overlooked her, and present himself as her sole re- 
source. 

" Thus, by being from her childhood the one embodi- 
ment her life presented to her of power to coerce and 
power to relieve, power to bind and power to lose, the 
ascendency over her weakness was secured. She was 
twenty-one years and twenty-one days old, when he brought 



252 THE LAZY TOUR OF 

her home to the gloomy house, his half-witted, frightened, 
aiul submissive l^ribe of three weeks. 

" lie had dismissed the governess by that time — ^wkfc 
he hud loft to do, he coidd best do alone — ^and they came 
back, upon a rainy uight, to the scene of her long preparap 
tiou. She turned to him upon the threshold, as the rain 
was dripping from the porch, and said ; — 

'* ' Oh sir, it is the Death watch ticking for me ! ' 
*» * AVell/* he answered. ' And if it were ? ' 
" Oh, sir I* she returned to him, * look kindly on me, and 
be merciful to me ! I beg your pardon. I will do any- 
thing you wish, if you will only forgive me ! ' 

"That had become the poor fool's constant song: ^I 
beg your pardon,' and ' Forgive me ! ' 

*' She was not worth hating ; he felt nothing but con- 
tempt for her. But, she had long been in the way, and 
he had long been weary, and the work was near its end, 
and had to be worked out. 

** * You fool/ he said, * go up the stairs ! ' 
** She obeyed very quickly, murmuring, ' I will do any- 
thin jj vou wish ! ' AVhen he came into the Bride's Cham- 

* ■ 

ber, having been a little retarded by the heavy fastenings 
of the great door (for they were alone in the house, and 
he had arranged that the people who attended on them 
should come and go in the day), he found her withdrawn 
to the farthest corner, and there standing pressed against 
the panelling as if she would have pressed through it : her 
flaxen hair all wild about her face, and her large eyes 
staring at him in vague terror. 

'* ' What are you afraid of ? Come and sit down by 

me.' 

" ' I will do anything you wish. I beg your pardon, sir. 

Forgive me ! ' Iler monotonous tune as usual. 

" ' Ellen, here is a writing that you must write out to. 

morrow, in your own hand. You may as well be seen by 

others, busily engaged upon it. AYhen you have written all 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 253 

fairly, and corrected all mistakes, call in any two people 
there may be about the house, and sign your name to it be- 
fore them. Then, put it in your bosom to keep it safe, and 
when I sit here again to-morrow night, give it to me.' 

" * I will do it all, with the greatest care. I will do any- 
thing you wish.' 

** * Don't shake and tremble then.' 

'* ' I will try my utmost not to do it — if you will only 
forgive me ! ' 

" Next day, she sat down at her desk, and did as she 
had been told. He often passed in and out of the room, 
to observe her, and always saw her slowly and laboriously 
writing : repeating to herself the words she copied, in ap- 
pearance quite mechanically, and without caring or en- 
deavoring to comprehend them, so that she did her task. 
He saw her follow the directions she had received, in all 
particulars ; and at night, when they were alone again in 
the same Bride's Chamber, and he drew his chair to the 
hearth, she timidly approached him from her distant ^eat, 
took the paper from her bosom, and gave it into his hand. 

" It secured all her possessions to him, in the event of 
her death. He put her before him face to face, that he 
might look at her steadily ; and he asked her, in so many 
plain words, neither fewer nor more, did she know that ? 

" There were spots of ink upon the bosom of her white 
dress, and they made her face look whiter, and her eyes 
look larger as she nodded her head. There were spots of 
ink upon the hiyid with which she stood before him, ner- 
vously plaiting and folding her white skirts. 

" He took her by the arm, and looked her, yet more 
closely and steadily, in the face. * Now, die ! I have done 
with you.' 

** She shrunk and uttered a low, suppressed cry. 

'* * I am not going to kill you. I will not endanger 
my life for yours. Die ! ' 

" He sat before her in the gloomy Bride's Chamber, day 



2r>4 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

after day, ni«;ht after night, looking the word at ner wkn 
he (lid not utter it. As often as her large unmeaning eyes 
were raised from the hands in which she rocked her head, 
to the stern figure, sitting with crossed arms and knitted 
forehead, in the chair, they read in it, ' Die ! ' When slie 
dropped asleep in exhaustion, she was called back to shud- 
dering consciousness hy the whisper, ^ Die ! ' When she 
fell upon her old entreaty to be pardoned, she was an- 
swered, * Die ! ' When she had out-watched and out-suf- 
fered the long night, and the rising sun flamed into the 
sombre room, she heard it hailed with, ^ Another day and 
not dead ? — Die V 

" Shut up in the deserted mansion, aloof from all man- 
kind, and engaged alone in such a struggle without any 
respite, it came to this that either he must die, or she. 
He knew it very well, and concentrated his strength against 
her feebleness. Hours upon hours, he held her by the arm 
when her arm was black where he held it,and bade her Die ! 
" It was done, upon a windy morning, before sunrise. 
He computed the time to be half -past four ; but, his for- 
gotten watch had run down, and he could not be sure. 
She had broken away from him in the night, with loud 
and sudden cries — the first of that kind to which she had 
given vent — and he had liad to put his hands over her 
mouth. Since then, she had been quiet in the corner of 
the panelling where she had sunk down ; and he had left 
her, and had gone back with his folded arms and his knit- 
ted forehead to his cliair. 

" Paler in the pale light, more colorless than ever in 
the leaden dawn, he saw her coming, trailing herself aloncr 
the floor towards him — a white wreck of hair, and dress 
and wild eyes pushing itself on by an irresolute and bend 
incr hand. 

" ' O, forgive me ! I will do anything. O, sir, pray ' 
tell me I may live I '' 



TWO IDLE APPKENTICES. 255 

" * Are you so resolved ? Is there no hope for me ? * 

« ' Die ! ' 

" Her large eyes strained themselves with wonder and 
fear ; wonder and fear changed to reproach ; reproach to 
blank nothing. It was done. He was not at first so 
sure it was done, but that the morning sun was hanging 
jewels in her hair — he saw the diamond, emerald, and 
ruby, glittering among it in her little points, as he stood 
looking down at her — when he lifted her and laid her on 
her bed. 

" She was soon laid in the ground, An(J now they 
were all gone, and he had compensated himself well. 

" He had a mind to travel. Not that he meant to waste 
his Money, for he was a pinching man and liked his Mon- 
ey dearly (liked nothing else, indeed), but, that he had 
grown tired of the desolate house and wished to turn his 
back upon it and have done with it. But the house was 
worth Money, and Money must not be thrown away. 
He determined to sell it before he went. That it 
might look the less wretched and bring a better price, he 
hired some laborers to work in the overgrown garden : 
to cut out the dead wood, trim the ivy that drooped in 
heavy masses over the windows and gables, and clear the 
walks in which the weeds were growing mid-leg high. 

" He worked, himself, along with them. He worked 
later than they did, and, one evening at dusk, was left 
working alone, with his bill-hook in his hand. One au- 
tumn evening, when the Bride was five weeks dead. 

" ' It grows too dark to work longer,' he said to him- 
self, * I must give over for the night.' 

" He detested the house, and was loath to enter it. 

He looked at the dark porch waiting for him like a tomb, 

and felt that it was an accursed house. Near to the 

11* 



2.3 G THE LAZY TOUK OF 

porch, and near to where he stood, was a tree whose 
branches waved before the old bay-window of the Bride's 
Clianiber, where it liad been done. The tree swung 
Kuihlcnly, and made him start. It swung again, although 
the nitrht was still. Looking up into it, he saw a figure 
among the branches. 

'' It was the figure of a young man. The face looked 
down, as his looked up ; the branches cracked and swayed, 
the figure rapidly descended, and slid upon its feet before 
him. A slender youth of about her age, with long light 
brown hair. 

" * What thief are you ? ' he said, seizing the youth by 
the collar. 

" The young man, in shaking himself free, swung him 
a blow with his arm aross the face and throat. They 
closed, but tlie young man got from him and stepped back, 
crying, with gi'cat eagerness and horror, ' Don't touch 
me ! I would as lieve be touched by the Devil I ' 

" He stood still, with his bill-hook in his hand, lookint' 
at the young man. For the young man's look was the 
counterpart of her last look, and he had not expected ever 
to see that again. 

^' * I am no tliieP. Even if I were, I would not have a 
coin of your wealth, if it would buy me the Indies. You 
murderer ! ' 

" ' AYhat ? ' 

" ^ I climbed it,' said the young man pointing up into 
the tree, * for the first time, nigh four years ao-o. I 
climbed it to look at her. I saw her. I spoke to her. 
I h;ive climbed it, many a time, to watch and listen for 
her. I was a boy, hidden among its leaves, when from 
that bay-window she gave me this ! ' 

" He showed a tress of flaxen hair, tied with a mourn- 
ing ribbon. 

" ^ Her life/ said the young man, * was a life of mourn- 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 257 

ing. She gave me this, as a token of it, and a sign that 
she was dead to every one but you. If I had been older, 
if I had seen her sooner, I might have saved her from 
you. But, she was fast in the web when I first climbed 
the tree, and what could I do then to break it ! * 

" In saying those words, he burst into a fit of sobbing 
and crying : weakly at first, then passionately. 

" * Mui;derer ! I climbed the tree on the night when 
you brought her back. I heard her, from the tree, speak 
of the Death-watch at the door. I was three times in the 
tree while you were shut up with her, slowly killing her. 
I saw her from the tree, lie dead upon her bed. I have 
watched you, from the tree, for proofs and traces of yoar 
guilt. The manner of it, is a mystery to me yet, but I 
will pursue you until you have rendered up your life to 
the hangman. You shall never, until then, be rid of me. 
I loved her ! I can know no relenting towards you. 
Murderer, I loved her ! ' 

" The youth was bare-headed, his hat having fluttered 
away in his descent from the tree. He moved towards 
the gate. He had to pass— Him — to get to it. There 
was breadth for two old-fashioned carriages abreast ; and 
the youth's abhorrence, openly expressed in every feature 
of his face and limb of his body, and very hard to bear, 
had verge enough to keep itself at a distance in. He (by 
which I mean the other) had not stirred hand or foot, 
since he had stood still to look at the boy. He faced 
round, now, to follow him with his eyes. As the back of 
the bare light-brown head was turned to him, he saw a 
red curve stretch from his hand to- it. He knew, before 
he threw the bill-hook, where it had alighted, I say had 
alighted, and not, would alight ; for, to his clear percep- 
tion, the thing was done before he did it. It cleft the 
head, and it remained there, and the boy lay on his face. 
" He buried the body in the night, at the foot of the 



i':>8 



THE LAZY TOUR OF 



tree. As soon as it was light in the morning, he worked 
at turning up all the ground near the tree, and haduDg 
and hewing at the neighboring hushes and under-growth. 
"When the laborers came, there was nothing suspicious, 
and nothing was suspected. 

" But, he had, in a moment, defeated all Lis precautions 
and destroyed the triumph of the scheme he had so long 
concerted, and so successfully worked out. He had got 
rid of the Bride, and had acquired her fortune without en- 
dangering his life ; but now, for a death by which he had 
gained nothing, he had evermore to live with a rope 
around his neck. 

" Beyond this, he was chained to the house of gloom 
and horror, which he could not endure. Being afraid to 
sell it or to quit it, lest discovery should be made, he was 
forced to live in it. lie hired two old people, man and 
wife, for his servants ; and dwelt in it, and dreaded it. 
His great dilFiculty, for a long time, was the garden. 
Whether he should keep it trim, whether he should suffer 
it to fall into its former state of neglect, what would be 
the least likely way of attracting attention to it ? 

" lie took the middle course of gardening, himself, in 
his evening leisure, and of then calling the old servin^^- 
man to help him ; but of never letting him work there 
alone. And he made himself an arbor over against the 
tree, where he could sit and see that it was safe. 

"As the seasons changed, and the tree changed, his 
mind perceived dangers that were always changing. In 
the leafy time, he perceived that the upper boughs were 
growing into the form of the young man, that they made 
the shape of him exactly, sitting in a forked branch 
swinging in the wind. In the time of the falling leaves, 
he perceived that they came down from tlie tree, forming 
tell-tale letters on the path, or that they had a tendency 
heap themselves into a church-yard-mound above the 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 259 

grave. In the winter, when the tree was bare, he per- 
ceived that the boughs swung at him the ghost of the 
blow the young man had given, and that they threatened 
him openly. In the spring, when the sap was mounting 
in the trunk, he asked himself, were the dried-up particles 
of blood mounting with it : to make out more obviously 
this year than last, the leaf-screened figure of the young 
man, swinging in the wind ? 

** However he turned his Money over and over, and 
still over. He was in the dark trade, the gold-dust trade, 
and most secret trades that yielded great returns. In ten 
years, he had turned his Money over, so many times, 
that the traders and shippers who had dealings with him, 
absolutely did not lie — ^f or once — when they declared that 
they had increased his fortune Twelve Hundred Per Cent. 

" Ho possessed his riches one hundred years ago, when 
people could be lost easily. He had heard who the youth 
was, from hearing of the search that was nuide after him, 
but, it died away, and the youth was forgotten. 

" The annual round of changes in the tree had been re- 
peated ten times since the night of the burial at its foot, 
when there was a great thunder-storm over thi^ place. 
It broke at midnight, and raged until morning. The first 
intelligence he had heard from his old serving-man that 
morning, was, that the tree had been struck by lightning. 

" It had been riven down the stem, in a very surpris- 
ing manner, and the stem lay in two blighted shafts ; one 
resting against the house, and one against a portion of 
the old red garden-wall in which its fall had made a gap. 
The fissure went down the tree to a little above the earth, 
and there stopped. There was great curiosity to see the 
tree, and, with most of his former fears revived, he sat in 
his arbor — grown quite an old man — watching the people 
who came to see it. 

" They quickly began to come, in such dangerous num- 



2»>;> THE LAZY TOUR OP 

Kt>. th:\the closed his ganleii gate and refused to adoiit 
any iin)ro. But there were certain men of science wlio 
travi'llo'l from a distance to examine the tree, and, in an 
evil lioiir, he let them in — Blight and Murrain on them, 
lot thorn in ! 

" They wanted to dig up the ruin by the roots, and 
closely examine it, and the earth ahout it. Never while 
he lived I They offered money for it. They ! Men of 
science, whom he could have bought by the gross, with a 
scratch of his pen ? He showed them Ihe garden gate 
ai^ain, and locked and barred it. 

*' But, they were bent on doing what they wanted to 
do, and thoy bribed the old serving-man — ^a thankless 
wretch who regularly complained when he received his 
wages, of being underpaid — and they stole into the garden 
by night with their lanterns, picks, and shovels, and fell 
to at the tree, lie was lying in a turret-room on the other 
side of the house (the Bride's Chamber had been unoccu- 
})ied over snice), but he soon dreamed of picks and shovels 
and got up. 

*' lie came to an upper window on that side whence he 
could see their lanterns, and them, and the loose earth in 
a heap which he had himself disturbed and put back, w^lien 
it was last turned to the air. It was found ! They had 
that minute lighted on it. They were all bending over it. 
One of them said, * The skull is fractured ; ' and another, 
' See here the clothes ;' and then the first struck in again, 
and said, * A rusty bill-hook ! ' 

" He became sensible, next day, that he was already put 
under a strict watch, and that he could go nowhere with- 
out being followed. Before a week was out, he was taken 
and laid in hold. The circumstances were gradually piec- 
ed together against him, with a desperate malignity, and 
an appalling ingenuity. But, see the justice of men, and 
how it was extended to him ! He was further accused of 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 261 

having poisoned that girl in the Bride's Chamber. He, 
who had carefully avoided imperilling a hair of his head 
for her, and who had seen her die of her own incapacity ! 

" There was a doubt for which of the two murders he 
should be first tried ; but, the real one was chosen, and 
he was found Guilty, and cast for Death. Bloodthirsty 
wretches ! They would have made him Guilty of any- 
thing, so set they were upon having his life. . 

" His money could do nothing to save him, and he was 
hanged, /am He, and I was hanged at Lancaster Castle 
with my face to the wall, a hundred years ago ! " 

At this terrific announcement, Mr. Goodchild tried to 
rise and cry out. But, the two fiery lines extended from 
the old man's eyes to his own, kept him down, and fie 
colild not utter a sound. His sense of hearing, however, 
was acute, and he could hear the clock strike Two. No 
sooner had he heard the clock strike Two, than he saw 
before him Two old men ! 

Two. 

The eyes of each, connected with his eyes by two films of 
fire : each, exactly like the other : each, addressing him at 
precisely one and the same instant : each, gnashing the 
same teeth in the same head, with the same twitched nos- 
tril above them, and the same suffused expression around 
it. Two old men. Differing in nothing, equally distinct 
to the sight, the copy no fainter than the original, the sec- 
ond as the first. 

** At what time," said the Two old men, " did you ar- 
rive at the door below ? '* 

'' At Six." 

" And there were Six old men upon the stairs ! " 

]VIr. Goodchild having wiped the perspiration from his 
brow, or tried to do it, the Two old men proceeded in one 
voice, and in the singular number : 
|>,. *^ I had been anatomised, but had not yet had my skele- 



/ 



202 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

ton put together and re-lmng on an iron hook, when itbe- 
iran to be ^vlnspered that the Bride's Chamber was haunt- 
ed. It was liaunted, and I was there. 

" We were there. She and I were there. I, in tlie 
eliair upon tlie hearth ; she, a white wreck again, trailing 
itself towards me on the floor. But, I was the speakerno 
more. She was the sole speaker now, and the one word 
that slie said to me from midnight untU dawn was * Live!' 

" The youth was there, likewise. In the tree outside 
the window. Coming and going in the moonlight as the 
tree bent and gave. lie has ever since, been there ; peep- 
ing in at me in my torment ; revealing to me by snatches, 
in the pale lights and slatey shadows where he comes and 
goes, bareheaded — a bill-hook, standing edo-ewise in his 
hair. 

*' In the Bride's Chamber, every night from midni<yht 
until dawn — one month in the ;year excepted, as lam going 
to tell you — he liides in the tree, and she comes towards 
me on the floor ; always approaching ; never comino- near- 
er ; always visible as if by moonlight, w^hether the moon 
shines or no ; always saying, from midnight until dawn, her 
one word, ' Live ! ' 

" But, in the month wherein I was forced out of this 
life — this present month of thirty days — the Bride's 
Chamber is empty and quiet. Not so my old dungeon. 
Not so the rooms where I wns, restless and afraid, ten 
years. Both are fitfully haunted then. At One in the 
morning, I am what you saw me when the clock struck 
that hour — One old man. At Two in the morning, I am 
Two old men. At Three, I am Three. By Twelve at 
noon, I am Twelve old men. One for every hundred per 
cent, of old gain. Every one of the Twelve, with Twelve 
times my old power of suffering and agony. From that 
hour until Twelve at night, I, Twelve old men in anguish 
and fearful foreboding, wait for the coming of the execu- 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 263 

tioner. At Twelve at night, I, Twelve old men turned 
off, swing invisible outside Lancaster Castle, with Twelve 
faces to the wall ! 

" When the Bride's Charnber was first haunted, it was 
known to me that this punishment would never cease, un- 
til I could make its nature, and my story, known to two 
living men together. I waited for the coming of two liv- 
ing men together into the Bride's Chamber, years upon 
years. It was infused into my knowledge (of the means 
I am ignorant) that if two living men, with their eyes open, 
could be in the Bride's Chamber at One in the morning, 
they would see me sitting in my chair. 

*' At length, the whispers that the room was spiritually 
troubled, brought two men to try the adventure. I was 
scarcely struck upon the hearth at midnight (I come there 
as if the Lightning blasted me into being), when I heard 
them ascending the stairs. Next, I saw them enter. One 
of them was a bold, gay, active man, in the prime of life, 
some five and forty years of age ; the other, a dozen years 
younger. They brought provisions with them in a basket, 
and bottles. A young woman accompanied them, with 
wood and coals for the lighting of the fire. When she 
had lighted it, the bold, gay, active man accompanied her 
along the gallery outside the room, to see her safely down 
the staircase, and came back laughing. 

'* He locked the door, examined the chamber, put out 
the contents of the basket on the table before the fire — 
little recking of me, in my appointed station on the hearth 
close to him — and filled the glasses, and ate and drank. 
His companion did the same, and was as cheerful and 
confident as he : though he was the leader. When they 
had supped, they laid pistols on the table, turned to the fire, 
and began to smoke their pipes of foreign make. 

" They had travelled together, and had been much to- 
gether, and had an abundance of subjects in common. In 

12 



264 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

the midst of their talking and laughing, the younger man 
made a reference to the leader's being always ready for 
any adventure : that one, or any other. He replied in 
tliese words : 

"'' ' Not (juite so, Dick ; if I am afraid of nothing else, I 
am afraid of myself/ 

** llis companion seeming to grow a little dull, asked 
him in what sense ? How ? 

" * Why, thus,' he returned. * Here is a Ghost to be 
disproved. Well ! I cannot answer for what my fancy 
mi<rht do if I were alone here, or what tricks my senses 
might play with me if they had me to themselves. But, 
in company with another man, and especially with you, 
Dick, I would consent to outface all the Ghosts that were 
ever told of in the universe.' 

" * I had not the vanity to suppose that I was of so 
much importance to-night,' said the other. 

" * Of so much, ' rejoined the leader more seriously 
than he had spoken yet, * that I would, for the reason I 
have given, on no account have undertaken to pass the 
\u<lht here alone.' 

" It was within a few minutes of One. The head of the 
younger man had drooped when he made his last remark, 
and it drooped lower now. 

'' ' Keep awake, Dick !' said the leader, gaily. < The 
small hours are the worst.' 

" lie tried, but his head drooped again. 

" * Dick ! ' urged the leader. ' Keep awake ! ' 

" ^ I can't,' he indistinctly muttered. ' I don't know 
what strange influence is stealing over me. I can't.' 

" His companion looked at him with a sudden horror, 
and I, in my different way, felt a new horror also ; for it 
was on the stroke of One, and I felt that the second 
watcher was yielding to me, and that the curse was upon 
me that I must send him to sleep. 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 265 

" * Get up and walk, Dick,' cried the leader. * Try ! ' 

"It was in vain to go behind the slumberer's chair 
and shake him. -One o'clock sounded, and I was present 
to the elder man, and he stood transfixed before me, 

" To him alone, I was obliged to relate my story, with- 
out hope of benefit. To him alone, I was an awful phantom 
making a quite useless confession. I foresee it will ever be 
the same. The two living men together will never come 
to release me. When I appear, the senses of one of the two 
will be locked in sleep ; he will neither see nor hear me ; 
my communication will ever be made to a solitary listener, 
and will ever be unserviceable. Woe ! Woe ! Woe I " 

As the Two old men, with these words, wrung their 
hands, it shot into Mr. Goodchild's mind that he was in 
the terrible situation of being virtually alone with the 
spectre, and that Mr. Idle's immovability was explained 
by his having been charmed asleep at One o'clock. In 
the terror of this sudden discovery which produced an 
indescribable dread, he struggled so hard to get free from 
the four fiery threads, that he snapped them, after he had 
pulled them out to a great width. Being then out of 
bonds, he caught up Mr. Idle from the sofa and rushed 
down stairs with him. 

" What are you about, Francis ?" demanded Mr. Idle. 
" My bedroom is not down here. What the deuce are 
you carrying me at all for ? I can walk with a stick now. 
I don't want to be carried. Put me down." 

Mr. Goodchild put him down in the old hall, and look- 
ed about him wildly. 

" What are you doing ? Idiotically plunging at your own 
sex, and rescuing them or perishing in the attempt ? " asked 
.Mr. Idle, in a highly petulant state. 

" The One old man 1 " cried Mr. Goodchild, distractedly, 
— " and the Two old men ! " 

Mr. Idle deigned no other reply than " The One old 



266 THE LAZT TOUR OF 

woman, I think vou mean," as he began hobbling his way 
hark up the staircase, with the assistance of its broad 
hahistrado. 

'' 1 assure you, Tom, " began Mr. Goodchild, attending 
at his side, ** that since you fell asleep " 

** Come, I like that ! " said Thomas Idle, " I haven't 
closed an eye ! " 

With the peculiar sensitiveness on the subject of the 
disgraceful action of going to sleep out of bed, which is 
the lot of all mankind, Mr. Idle persisted in this declara- 
tion. The same peculiar sensitiveness impelled Mr. Good- 
child on being taxed with the same crime, to repudiate it 
with honorable resentment. The settlement of the ques- 
tion of The One old man and The Two old men was thus 
presently complicated, and soon made quite impracticable. 
Mr. Idle said it was all Bride-cake, and fragments, newly 
arranged, of things seen and thought about in the day. 
Mr. Goodchild said how could that be, when he hadn't 
been asleep, and what right could Mr. Idle have to say so, 
who had been asleep ? Mr. Idle said he had never been 
p.sleep and never did go to sleep, and that Mr. Goodchild 
as a general rule, was always asleep. They conse- 
quently parted for the rest of the night, at their bedroom 
doors, a little riifllcd. Mr. Goodchild's last words were, 
that he had had, in that real and tangible old sitting-room 
of that real and tangible old Inn (he supposed Mr. Idle 
denied its existence?), every sensation and experience, 
the present record of which is now wuthin a line or two 
of completion ; and that he would write it out and print 
it every word. IVIr. Idle returned that he might if he liked 
— and he did like, and has now done it. 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 267 

CHAPTER THE FIFTH. 

TWO of the many passengers by a certain late Sunday 
evening train, Mr. Thomas Idle and Mr. Francis Good- 
child, yielded up their tickets at a little rotten platform 
(converted into artificial touch-wood by smoke and ashes) 
deep in the manufacturing bosom of Yorkshire. A myste- 
rious bosom it appeared, upon a damp, dark, Sunday night 
dashed through in the train to the music of the whirling 
wheels, the panting of the engine, and the part-singing of 
hundreds of the third-class excursionists, whose vocal 
efforts " bobbed arayoimd " from sacred to profane, from 
hymns, to our transatlantic sisters, the Yankee Gal and 
Mairy Anne, in a remarkable way. There seemed to 
have been some large vocal gathering near to "every 
lonely station on the line. No town was visible ; no vil- 
lage was visible ; no light was visible ; but a multitude got 
out singing, and a multitude got in singing, and the second 
multitude took up the hymns, and adopted our transatlan- 
tic sisters, and sang of their own egregious wickedness, and 
of their bobbing arayound, and of how the ship it was 
ready and the wind it was fair and they were beyound 
for the sea, Mairy Anne, until they in their turn became 
a getting-out multitude and was replaced by another get- 
ting in multitude, who did the same. And at every sta- 
tion, the getting-in multitude, with an artistic reference to 
the completeness of their chorus, incessantly cried, as with 
one voice, while scuflling into the carriages, " We mun 
aa' gang toogither ! " 

The singing of the multitudes had trailed off as the lone- 
ly places were left and the great towns were neared, and 
the way had lain as silently as a train's way ever can, 
over the vague black streets of the great gulfs of towns, 
and among their branchless woods of vague black chim- 
neys. These towns looked, in the cinderous wet, as though 



i*:? THE LAZY TOCR OF 

:r.'T t.vi o--^ and all been oa fire and were just pot oat— 
a irrirv a. i ; i^nch-r*! panorama, many miles long. 

TL^lt. Tz. . =iai and Francis got to Leeds : of which en- 
v.rprlrir-i iLd Isip-irtant commercial centre it may be ob- 
•er-.-l ^::h d-rlicacv. that yoa must either like it very 
mQ?h or L o: a: alL Next dav, the firstof the Race-Week, 
:hev :.>jk rh- train to Doncaster. 

Ai.d L^sLiiidv the character, both of travellers and of 
laj^ai'e. eiiiir^rlv changed, and no other business than 
raoe-bu.-i:iie^s anv longer existed on the face of the eartL 
The talk wa-s all of hordes and " John Scott." Guards 
whispered behind their hands to station^nasters of horses 
and John Scott. Men in cut-away coats and speckled cra- 
vats fastened with peculiar pins, and with the lar^e bones 
of their legs developed under tight trousers, so that thej 
should look as much as possible like horses* legs, paced up 
and down by twos at junction stations, speaking low and 
moodily of horses and John Scott. The young clergyman 
in the black strait-waistcoat, who occupied the middle seat 
of the carriage, expounded in his peculiar pulpit-accent to 
tlie young and lovely Reverend Mrs. Crinoline, who occu- 
])ied the o}>po.site middle-seat, a few passages of rumor 
relative to ** Oarthetli, my love, and Mithter John Eth- 
COTT." A bandy vagabond, with a head like a Dutch 
cheese, in a fustian stable-suit, attending on a horse box, 
and going about the platforms with a halter hanging round 
liiH neck like a Calais burgher of the ancient period much 
d(!gonerated, was courted by the best society, by reason 
oi what he had to hint, when not engaged in eating straw, 
concerning " t'harses and John Scott." The engine-driv- 
rr himself, as he apj)lied one eye to his large station^ 
iwy (louble-eye-glasH on the engine, seemed to keep the 
olhri" ()|)(;n, sideways uj)on the horses and John Scott. 

Ilreaks and barriers at Doncaster station to keep the 
crowd olT ; temporary wooden avenues of ingress and 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. • 269 

egress, to help the crowd on. Forty extra porters sent 
down for this present blessed Race-Week, and all of them 
making up their betting books in the lamp-room or some- 
where else, and none of them to come and touch the lug- 
gage. Travellers disgorged into an open space, a howling 
wilderness of Idle men. All work but race work at a 
standstill ; all men at a standstill. " Ey my word ! Daant 
ask noon o' us to help wi' t' luggage. Bock your opinion 
loike a mon. Coom ! Dang it, coom, t'harses and Joon 
Scott !" In the midst of the idle men, all the fly horses 
and omnibus horses of Doncaster and parts adjacent, ram- 
pant, rearing, backing, plunging, shying — apparently the 
result of their hearing of nothing but their own order and 
John Scott. 

Grand Dramatic Company from London for the Race- 
Week. Poses Plastiques in the Grand Assembly Room 
up the Stable- Yard at seven and nine each evening, for 
the Race- Week. — Grand Alliance Circus in the field be- 
yond the bridge, for the Race- Week. Grand Exhibition 
of Aztec Lilliputians, important to all who want to be 
horrified cheap, for the Race-Week. Lodgings, grand and 
not grand, but all at grand prices, ranging from ten 
pounds to twenty, for the Grand Race- Week ! 

Rendered giddy enough by these things. Messieurs Idle 
and Goodchild repaired to the quarters they had secured 
beforehand, and Mr. Goodchild looked down from the 
window into the surging street. 

" By heaven, Tom ! " cried he, after contemplating it , 
" I am in the Lunatic Asylum again, and these are all 
mad people under the charge of a body of designing keep- 
ers !" 

All through the Race- Week, Mr. Goodchild never di- 
vested himself of this idea. Every day he looked out of 
the window, with something of the dread of Lemuel Gul- 
liver looking down at men after he returned home from 



270 THE LAZY TOUB OF 

the horse-country ; and every day he saw the Lunatics, 
horwj-niad, betting-mad, dninkeu-mad, vice-mad, and 
the desijjning Keepers always after them. The idea per- 
vaded, like the second colour in shot-silk, the whole of 
Mr. Guodchild's impression. They were much as follows: 

Aloiiday, mid-day. Races not to begin until to-monov, 
but all the mob-Lunatics out, crowding the pavements of 
the one main street of pretty and pleasant Doncaster, 
crowding the road, particularly crowding the outside of 
tlie ik'ttiiig Room, whooping and shouting loudly after 
all passing vehicles. Frightened lunatic horses occasion- 
ally running away, with infinite clatter. All degrees of 
men, from peers to paupers, betting incessantly. Xeepers 
are very watchful, and taking all good chances. An aw- 
ful fjunily likeness among the Keepers, to Mr. Palmer 
and Mr. Thurtell. With some knowledge of expression 
and some acquaintance with heads (thus wntes Mr. Grood- 
child), I never have seen anywhere, so many representa- 
tions of one class of countenance and one character of 
head (both evil) as in this street at this time. Cunninor, 
covet ousn ess, secresy, cold calculation, hard callousness 
and dire insensibility, are the uniform Keeper character- 
istics. IVIr. Palmer passes me live times in five minutes, 
and, as I go down the street, the back of Mr. ThurteH's 
skull is always going on before me. 

Monday evening. Town lighted up ; more lunatics out 
than ever ; a complete choke and stoppage of the thorough- 
fare outside the Betting Rooms. Keepers, having dined, 
pervade the Betting Rooms, and sharply snap at the mon- 
eyed Lunatics. Some Keepers flushed with drink, and 
some not, but all close and calculating. A vague echo- 
ing roar of " t'harses " and '• t'races '* always rising in 
the air, until midnight, at about which period it dies away 
in occasional drunken songs and straggling yells. But 
all night, some unmannerly drinking house in the neighbor- 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 271 

hood opens its mouth at intervals and spits out a man too 
drunk to be retained : who thereupon makes what uproar- 
ious protest may be left in him, and either falls asleep 
where he tumbles, or is carried off in custody. 

Tuesday morning, at daybreak. A sudden rising, as it 
were out of the earth, of all the obscene creatures, who 
sell " correct cards of the races." They may have been 
coiled in corners, or sleeping on door-steps, and, having 
all passed the night under the same set of circumstances, 
may all want to circulate their blood at the same time ; 
but, however that may be, they sprang into existence all 
at once and together, as though a new Cadmus had sown 
a race-horse's teeth. There is nobody up, to buy the 
cards; but, the cards are madly cried. There is no 
patronage to quarrel for; but, they madly quarrel and 
fight. Conspicuous among these hyaenas, as breakfast- 
time discloses, is a fearful creature in the general sem- 
blance of a man ; shaken off his next-to-no legs by drink 
and devilry, bare-headed and bare-footed, with a great 
shock of hair like a horrible broom, and nothing on him 
but a ragged pair of trousers and a pink glazed-calico 
coat — made on him — so very tight that it is as evident 
that he could never take it off, as that he never does. 
This hideous apparition, inconceivably drunk, has a terri- 
ble power of making a gong-like imitation of the braying 
of an ass ; which feat requires that he should lay his right 
jaw in his begrimed right paw, double himself up, and 
shake his bray out of himself, with much staggering on 
his next-to-no legs, and much twirling of his horrible 
broom, as if it were a mop. From the present minute, 
when he comes in sight holding up his cards to the win- 
dows, and hoarsely proposing purchase to My Lord, Your 
Excellency, Colonel, the Noble Captain, and Your Honor- 
able Wori^hip — ^from the present minute until the Grand 
Race- Week is finished, at all hours of the morning, evne- 



272 THE LAZY TOUK OP 

ing, (lay, and night, shall the town reverberate, at capric- 
ious intervals, to the brays of this frigbtful animal the 
Gong-Donkey. 

No very great racing to-day, so no very great amount 
of vehicles : though there is a good sprinklino-, too : from 
farmers' carts and gigs, to carriages witb post-borses and 
to fours-in-hand, mostly coming by tbe road from York, 
and passing on straight through the main street to the 
Course. A walk in the wrong direction may be a better 
thing for Mr. Goodchild to-day than tbe Course, so he 
walks in the wrong direction. Everybody gone to the 
races. Only children in the street. Grand Alliance 
Circus deserted ; not one Star-Rider left ; omnibus which 
forms the Pay-Place, having on separate panels Pay here 
for the Boxes, Pay here for the Pit, Pay here for the 
Gallery, hove down in a corner and locked up ; nobody 
near the tent but the man on his knees on the grass, who 
is making the paper balloons for the Star young gentle- 
man to jump through to-nrght. A pleasant road, plea- 
santly wooded. No laborers working in the fields ; all 
gone " t'races." The few late wonders of their way 
*' t'races, " who are yet left driving on the road, stare in 
amazement at the recluse who is not going '" t'races. 
Roadside inn-keeper has gone ." t'races." Turupike-mau 
has gone " t'races." His thrifty wife, washing clothes at 
the toll-house door, is going " t'races " to-morrow. Per- 
haps there may be no one left to take the toll to-morrow ; 
who knows ? Though assuredly that would be neither 
turnpike-like, nor Yorkshire-like. The very wind and 
dust seem to be hurrying '' t'races " as they briskly pass 
the only way-farer on the road. In the distance, the Rail- 
way Engine, waiting at the town-end, shrieks despairingly. 
Nothing but the dilhculty of getting off the Line, re- 
strains that Engine from going '' t'races, " too, it is very 
clear. 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 273 

At night, more Lunatics out than last night — and more 
Keepers. The latter very active at the Betting Rooms, 
the street in front of which is now impassable. Mr. Pal- 
mer as before. Mr. Thurtell as before. Roar and uproar 
as before ! Gradual subsidence as before. Umannerly 
drinking house expectorates as before. Drunken negro- 
melodists, Gong-donkey, and correct cards in the night. 

On Wednesday morning, the morning of the great St. 
Leger, it becomes apparent that there has been a great 
influx since yesterday, both of Lunatics and Keepers. 
The families of the tradesmen over the way are no longer 
within human ken ; their places know them no more ; ten, 
fifteen, and twenty guinea lodgers fill them. At the pastry 
cook's second-floor window, a Keeper is brushing Mr. 
Thurtell's hair — thinking it his own. In the wax-chand- 
ler's attic, another Keeper is putting on Mr. Palmer's 
braces. In the gunsmith's nursery, a Lunatic is shaving 
himself. In the serious stationer's best sitting room, three 
Lunatics are taking a combination-breakfast, praising the 
(cook's) devil, and drinking' neat brandy in an atmosphere 
of last midnight's cigars. No family sanctuary is free from 
our Angelic messengers — we put up at the Angel — who 
in the guise of extra waiters for the grand Race- Week, 
rattle in and out of the most secret chambers of every- 
body's house, with dishes and tin covers, decanters, soda- 
water bottles, and glasses. An hour later. Down the 
street and up the street, as far as eyes can see and a ^ood 
deal farther, there is a dense crowd ; outside the Betting 
Rooms, it is like a great struggle at a theatre door — in the 
the days of theatres ; »or at the vestibule of the Spurgeon 
temple — in the days of Spurgeon. An hour latter. Fus- 
ing into this crowd, and somehow getting through it, are 
all kinds of conveyances, and all dindsof foot-passengers; 
carts, with brick-makers and brick-makeresses jolting up, 
and down on planks ; drags, with the needful grooms behind, 



274 THE LAZY TOUB OF 

sitting cro8»e(l armed in the needful manner, and slanting 
themselves backward from the soles of their boots at the 
needful angle ; post-boys, in the shining hats and smart 
jackets of the old times when stokers were not ; beautiful 
Yorkshire horses, gallantly driven by their own breeders 
and masters. Under every pole, and every shaft, and every 
horse, and every wheel as it would seem, the Gong-donkey 
— metalically braying, when not struggling for life, or 
whipped out of the way. 

By one o'clock, all this stir has gone out of the streets, 
and there is no one left in them but Francis Goodchild. 
Francis Goodchild will not be left in them long ; for he too 
is on his way " t'races." 

A most beautiful sight, Francis Groodchild finds "t'races" 
to be, when he has left fair Doucaster behind him, and comes 
out on the free course, with its agreeable prospect, its 
quaint Red House oddly changing and turning as Francis 
turns its green grass, and fresh heath. A free course and 
an easy one where Francis can roll smoothly where he will, 
and can choose between the start, or the coming-in, or the 
turn beliind the brow of the hill, or any-out-of-the-way 
point where he lists to see the throbbing horses straining 
every nerve, and making the symj)athetic earth throb as 
they come by. Francis much delights to be, not in the 
Grand Stand, but where he can see it rising against the 
sky with its vast tiers of little white dots of faces, and its 
high rows and corners of people, looking like pins stuck 
into an enormous pin-cushion — not quite so symmetrically 
as his orderly eye could wish, when people change or go 
away. When the race is nearly ruij out, it is as good as 
the race to him to see the flutter among the pins, and the 
change in them from dark to liMit, as hats are taken off 
and Avaved. Not less full of interest, the loud anticipa- 
tion of the winner's name, the swelling, and the final, roar ; 
then, the quick dropping of all the pins out of their places, 



3 IDEE APPRENTICES. 275 

the revelation of the shape of the bare pin-cushion, and 
the closing-in of the whole host of Lunatics and Keepers, 
in the rear of the three horses with bright-coloured riders, 
who have not yet quite subdued their gallop, though the 
contest is Qver. 

Mr. Goodchild would appear to have been by no means 
free from lunacy himself at "tVaces " though not of the pre- 
valent kind. He is suspected by Mr. Idle to have fallen 
into a dreadful state concerning a pair of little lilac gloves 
and a little bonnet that he saw there. Mr. Idle asserts 
that he did afterwards repeat at the Angel, with an ap- 
pearance of being lunatically seized, some rhapsody to 
the following effect: " O little lilac gloves ! And O win- 
ning little bonnet, making in conjunction with her golden 
hair quite a Glory in the sunlight round the pretty head, 
why anything in the world but you and me ! Why may 
not this day's running — of horses, to all the rest ; of pre- 
cious sands of life to me — be prolonged through an au- 
tumn-sunshine, without a sunset ! Slave of the Lamp, or 
Ring, strike me yonder gallant equestrian Clerk of the 
Course, in the scarlet coat, motionless on the green grass 
for ages ! Friendly Devil on two sticks, for ten times ten 
thousand years, keep Blink-bonny jibbing at the post, and 
let us have no start ! Arab drums, powerful of old to sum- 
mon Genii in the desert, sound of yourselves and raise a 
troop for me in the desert of my heart, which shall so en- 
chant this dusty barouche (with a conspicuous excise-plate 
resembling the Collector's door-plate at a turnpike), that I 
within it, loving the lilac gloves, the winning little bonnet 
and the dear unknown-wearer with the golden hair, may 
wait by her side for ever, to see a Great St. Leger that 
shall never be run ! " ' • 

Thursday morning. After a tremendous night of crowd- 
ing, shouting, drinking-house expectoration, Gong-donkey, 
and correct cards. Symptoms of yesterday's gains in the 



27 ^» THE LA2T TOCll OF 

wav of ^'rink, and of resterdar'* losses in the war of 
moTi»*v, a>»nndanl- MoDev-loases verr creat. As usaaL 
rjo>Kf^h' ^-emn to have won : bat, large losses and nuuj 
lo^cT^ an! anqnestionable fact^. Both Lunatics and Eeep- 
frrf», in ^frneral very low. Several of both kinds look in at 
tlif; chemist's while ^Ir. Goodchild is making a purduse 
th**rf, to b^r •• picked np/' One red-eyed Ltonatic, flushed, 
fadf-d, ari<l disordered, enters hurriedly and cries savagely. 
*' Ilond us a jrloss of sal volatile in wather, or soom dom- 
mH \\\\\\^ o' thot sart ! " Faces at the Betting Rooim 
very lorif(, and a tendency to bite nails observable. Keep- 
erH likewise given this morning to standing about sol- 
itary, with their hands in their pockets, looking down 
at their boots as they fit them into cracks of the 
pavement, and then looking up whistling and walking 
away. Grand Alliance Circus out, in procession ; buxom 
lady-member of Grand Alliance, in crimson riding-habit, 
freKher to look at, even in her paint under the day sky, 
than thfi rhf^f.-ks of Lunatics or Keepers. Spanish Cavalier 
ni)|)<'ar.s to luivf, lost yesterday ; and jingles his bossed bridle 
with disi(ust, as if ho vvfire paying. Re-action also ap- 
j)arf'iit at tho Guildhall opposite, whence certain pickpock- 
ets roTiif. out handcuffed together, with that peculiar walk 
which is iHivcr seen under any other circumstances — a walk 
(expressive of going to jail, game, but still jails being in 
had taster and arbitrary, and how would you like it if it 
was you instead of me, as it ought to be ! Mid-day. 
Town filled as yesterday, but not so full ; and emptied as 
yesterday, but not so empty. In the evening Angel ordinary 
when* (every Lunatic and Keeper has his modest daily 
meal of turtle, v(}nison, and wine, not so crowded as yes- 
t(Tdfiv, and not so noisv. At nicrht the theatre. More 
abstracted faces in it, than one ever sees at public assem- 
hli(5s ; such faces wearing an expression which strongly 
reminds Mr. Goodchild of the boys at school who were " go- 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 277 

ing up next, " with their arithmetic or mathematics. These 
boys are, no doubt, going up to-morrow with their sums 
and figures. Mr. Palmer and Mr. Thurtell in the boxes 
O. P. Mr. Thurtell and Mr. Palmer in the boxes P. S. 
The firm of Thurtell, Palmer, and Thurtell in the 
boxes Centre. A most odious tendency observable in 
these distinguished gentlemen to put vile constructions on 
sufiiciently innocent phrases in the play, and then to ap- 
plaud them in a Satyr-like manner. Behind Mr. Good- 
child, with a party of other Lunatics and one Keeper, the 
express incarnation of the thing called a "gent." A 
gentleman born ; a gent maimf actured. A something with 
a scarf round its neck, and a slipshod speech issuing from 
behind the scarf ; more depraved, more foolish, more igno- 
rant, more unable to believe in any noble or good thing 
of any kind, than the stupidest Bosjesman. The thing is 
but a boy in years, and is addled with drink. To do its 
company justice, even its company is ashamed of it, as it 
drawls its slang criticisms on the representation, and in- 
flames Mr. Goodchild with a burning ardor to fling it into 
the pit. Its remarks are so horrible, that Mr. Goodchild, 
for the moment, even doubts whether that is a wholesome 
Art which sets women apart on a high floor before such a 
thing as this, though as good as its own sisters, or its own 
mother — whom Heaven forgive for bringing it into the 
world ! But, the consideration that a low nature must 
make a low world of its own to live in, whatever the real 
materials, or it could no more exist than any of us could 
without the sense of touch, brings Mr. Goodchild to reason ; 
the rather, because the thing soon drops its downy chin 
on its scarf, and slobbers itself asleep. 

Friday Morning. Early fights. Gong-donkey, and cor- 
rect cards. Again, a great set towards the races, though 
not 80 great a set as on Wednesday. Much packing going 
on too, upstairs at the gim smith's, the waxchandler's, and 



278 THE LAZY TOUR OF 

tho sorionft stationer's ; for there will bo a heavy drift of 
Lunatics and Keepers to London by the afternoon train. 
The cinrse as pretty as ever ; the great pincushion as like 
a pincushion, hut not nearly so full of pins; whole rows of 
pins wanting. On the great event of the day, both Lunatics 
and Keo|)ors hecome inspired with rage; and there is a 
violent scuflling, and a rushing at the losing jockey, and 
an emergence of the sai<l jockey from a swaying and 
menacing crowd protected by friends, and looking the 
worse for wear ; which is a rough proceeding, though an- 
imating to sec from a pleasant distance. After the great 
event, rills begin to flow from the pincushion towards the 
railroad ; the rills swell into rivers ; the rivers soon unite 
into a lake. The lake floats Mr. Goodchild into Doncaster 
past the Itinerant personage in black by the way-side, tell- 
ing him from the vintage ground of a legibly printed pla- 
card on a pole that for all these things the I/ord will 
bring him to judgment. No turtle and venison ordinary 
this evening ; that is all over. No Betting at the rooms ; 
nothing there but the plants in pots, which have all the 
week, ])een stood about the entry to give it an inno- 
cent appearance, and which have sorely sickened by 
this time. 

Saturday. Mr. Idle wishes to know at breakfast what 
were those dreadful groan ings in his bedroom doorway in 
the night ? Mr. Goodchild answers, Nightmare. ]VIr. 
Idle repels the calumny, and calls the waiter. The Angel 
is very sorry — had intended to explain ; but you see, gen- 
tlemen, there was a gentleman dined down stairs with two 
more, and he had lost a deal of money, and he would drink 
a deal of wine, and in the night he ** took the horrors," and 
got up ; and, as his friends could do nothing with him, he 
laid himself down, and groaned at Mr. Idle's door. "And 
he DID groan there," IMr. Idle says ; " and you will please 
^o imagine me inside, * taking the horrors' too ! " 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 279 

So far, the picture of Doncaster oa the occasion of its great 
sporting anniversary, oilers probably a general represen- 
tation of the social condition of the town, in the past as 
well as in the present time. The sole local phenomenon * 
of the current year, which may be considered as entirely 
unprecedented in its way, and which certainly claims, on 
that account, some slight share of notice, consists in the ac- 
tual existence of one remarkable individual, who is so- 
journing iji Doncaster, and who, neither directly or indi- 
rectly, has anything at all to do, in any capacity whatever, 
with the racing amusements of the week. Ranging through- 
out the entire crowd that fills the town, and including 
the inhabitants as well as the visitors, nobody is to be 
found altogether disconnected with the business of the day, 
excepting this one unparalleled man. He does not bet on 
the races, like the sporting men. He does not assist the 
races, like the jockeys, starters, judges, and grooms. He 
does not look on at tie races, like Mr. Goodchild and fel- 
low-speqtators. He does not profit by the races, like the 
hotel-keepers and the trades-people. He does not minister 
to the necessities of the races, like the booth-keepers, the 
postillions, the waiters, and the hawkers of Lists. He does 
not assist the attractions of the races, like the actors at 
the theatre, the riders at the circus, or the posturers at the 
Poses Plastiques. Absolutely and literally, he is the only 
individual in Doncaster who stands by the brink of the 
full-flowing race-stream, and is not swept away by it 
in common with st 1 the rest of his species. Who is this 
modem hermit, this recluse of the St. Leger-week, this 
inscrutably ungregarious being, who lives apart from the 
amusements and activities of his fellow-creatures? Surely, 
there is little difficulty in guessing that clearest and easiest 
of all riddles. Who could he be, but Mr. Thomas Idle ? 
Thomas had suffered himself to be taken to Doncaster, 
just as be would have suffered himself to be taken to any 

12* 



THE LAZT TOUR OF 



?L . 



v.. 



. . x . . ^ 



v. 



w 



::.-. •./•::aftle irlo?3e which would guarantee 

7 .:y : '---:...ii of a coiufortAble sofa to rest 

• *.. ' -:;iMi>h«.-ilat the hotel, with hislegon 
". '.'> "r-L-.k a::ain<t another, lie formallvde 
t-.-r -.i^liicst interest in any circumstance 
. .>.-.; w::h the races, or with the people 
::/ '.'A : -^ sn.'c them. Francis Groodchild, 
:.'. *:: . -.irs -houl J pass by his crippled travel- 
. ;is l'--":-}' as possible, suofgested that his 
::: vt-l:o the window, and that he should 
"v Ix-kir.i: out at the moving panorania of 
:: :l.r: view from it of the principal street 
:. '::.:is. ho^vt-ver. steadily declined profiting 



-. ^-- ■*■ 



t:.v 



' ^ 



'.<.■ \\;.-.^ ;ir 



'I 1 * ■ - 



htr I :r.u from the window," he said, " the 
:• Fr.n:j>. I shall be pleased. I have noth- 
:. \v::h the one prevalent idea of all these 
^.- VLis-i'.ii: in the street. AVhv should I care 



•• I :. ■■. «. 1 :.:/. V :..':li::.^^ ill common with the prevalent 
: I' :i '.»: a ^':r:i: :v.;»:.y ..-i i]i^m, oiiher," answered Goodchikl, 
ii/.r.k". ._■«..: :lv- >:'L^::i;.;r ^r.-ntK-nien whom he had met in 
I'iio i' 'iK-^*.- o: 1:> waii'lcTiiius about Doneaster. 

" r>iK. >uivly. anion:: all the pe'ople who are walking 
bv tlie liou<o, at tliis w-rv moniont, von mav liiid '' 

• • • N 

*• >s'oi OIK* living croaauv," interposed Thomas, '■•^ who is 
not. in one wav or another, interested in horses, and who 
is not. in a greater or loss deirreo, an admirer of them. 
Now, I hold opinions in reference to these particular mem- 
bers of the c|nadrnped creation, which may lay claim (as I 
believe)to the disastrous distinction of being unpartaken 
1)V any other human beini^, civilized or savao^e, over the 
whole surface of the earth. Taking the horse as an animal 
in the abstract, Francis, I cordially despise him from every 
point of view." 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 281 

" Thomas," said Goodchild, " confinement to the house 
has begun to affect your biliary secretions. I shall go to 
t^ chemist's and get you some physic." 
/ ** I object," continued Thomas, quietly possessing him- 
self of his friend's hat, which stood on a table near him, — 
" I object, first to the personal appearance of the horse. I 
protest against the conventional idea of beauty, as attached 
to that animal. I think his nose too long, his forehead too 
low, and his legs (except in the case of the cart-horse) 
ridiculously thin by comparison with the size of his body, 
Again, considering how big an animal he is, I object to 
I th e contemptible delicacy of his constitution. Is he not 
the sickliest creature in creation ? Does any child catch cold 
as easily as a horse ? Does he not sprain his fetlock, for all 
his appearance of superior strength, as easily as I sprained 
my ankle ? Furthermore, to take him from another point 
of view, what a helpless wretch he is ? No fine lady re- 
quires more constant waiting-on than a horse. Other 
animals^can make their own toilette : he must have a groom. 
You will tell me that this is because we want to make his 
coat artificially glossy. Glossy ! Come home with me 
and see my cat, — my clever cat, who can groom herself. 
Look at your own dog ! see how the intelligent creature 
curry-combs himself with his own honest teeth ! Then, 
again, what a fool the horse is, what a poor, nervous fool ! 
He will start at a piece of white paper in the road as if it 
was a lion. His one idea, when he hears a noise that he is 
not accustomed to is to run away from it. What do you say 
to those two common instances of the sense and courage of 
this absurdly overpraised animal ? I might multiply them to 
two hundred, if I chose to exert my mind and waste my 
breath which I never do. I prefer comng at onceito my last 
charge against the horse, which is the most serious of all, 
because it affects his moral character. I accuse him bold- 
ly, in his capacity of servant to man, of slyness and treach- 



282 THE LAZY TOUK OP 

erv. T brand him publicly, no matter how mild he may 
look about the eyes, or how sleek he may be about the 
coat, as a systematic betrayer, whenever he can get the 
clianco, of the confidence reposed in hun. What do you 
mean by laughing and shakhig your head at me ? " 

*• ( )h Thomas, Thomas ! " said Mr. Goodchild. '* You 
had better give me my hat ; you had better let me get you 
that physic/' 

** I will let you get anything you like, including a com- 
l>osing draught for yourself ," said Thomas, irritably allud- 
ing to his fellow-apprentice's iuexhaustible activity, '^ is 
you will only sit quiet for five minutes longer, and hear 
nio out. I say again the horse is a betrayer of the con- 
fi(k^nce reposed in him ; and that opinion, let me add, if 
drawn from my own personal experience, -and is not bas- 
ed on any fanciful theory whatever. You shall have two 
instances, two overwhelming instances. Let me start the 
first of these by asking what is the distinguishing quality 
which the Shetland Pony has arrogated to himself, and is 
still per])etuallv trumpeting through the world by means 
of i)0[)ular re})ort and books on Natural History ? I see 
tlie answer in your face : it is the quality of being Sure- 
Footed. He professes to have other virtues, such as hardi- 
ness and strength, which you may discover on trial ; but 
the one thing which he insists on your believing, when you 
get on his back, is that he may be safely depended on not 
to tumble down with you. Very good. Some years ago, 
I Avas in Shetland with a party of friends. They in- 
sisted on taking me with them to the top of a precipice 
that overhung the sea. It was a great distance off, but 
they all determined to walk to it except me. I was wiser 
then than I was with you at Carrock, and I determined to 
be carried to the precipice. There was no carriage road 
in the island, and nobody offered (in consequence, I sup- 
pose, of the imperfectly-civilized state of the country) to 



TWO IDLE apprentices; 283 

bring me a sedan-chair, which is naturally what I should 
have liked best. A Shetland pony was produced instead. 
I remembered my Natural History, I recalled popular re- 
port, and I got on the little beast's back, as any other man 
would have done in my position, placing implicit confidence 
in the sureness of his feet. And how did he repay that 
confidence ? Brother Francis, carrying your mind on 
from morning to noon, picture to yourself a howling 
wilderness of grass and bog, bounded by low, stony hills. 
Pick out one particular spot in that imaginary scene, and 
sketch me in it, with outstetched arms, curved back, and 
heels in the air, plunging head foremost into a black patch 
of water and mud. Place just behind me the legs, the 
body, and the head of a sure-footed Shetland pony all 
stretched flat on the ground, and you will have produced 
an accurate representation of a very lamentable fact. And 
the moral device, Francis, of this picture will be to testify 
that when gentlemen put confidence in the legs of Shetland 
ponies, they will find to their cost that they are leaning on 
nothing but broken reeds. There is my first instance 
— and what have you got to say to that ? " 

" Nothing ; but I want my hat," answered Goodchild, 
starting up and walking restlessly about the room. 

" You shall have it in a minute," rejoined Thomas. 
"My second instance" — ^(Goodchild groaned, aud sat 
down again) — " My second instance is more appropriate 
to the present time and place, it refers to a race-horse. 
Two years ago an excellent friend of mine, who was de- 
sirous of prevailing on me to take regular exercise, and 
who was well enough acquainted with the weakness of my 
legs, to expect no very active compliance with his wishes 
on their part, offered to make me a present of one of his 
horses. Hearing that the animal in question had started 
in life on the turf, I declined accepting the gift with many 
thanks ; adding, by way of explanation, that I looked on 



284 THE LAZr TOCB OF 

a ni<.*e-ho»e a^ a klu<l of embxiiel hurricane, apoa which 
111 J -:iiie man of my character and habits could be expect - 
cil to si-at himself. My frieud replied that, however ap- 
propriiite my metaphor might be as applied to race-horses 
in ;Lreiieral, it was singularly unsuitable as applied to the 
particular horse which he proposed to give me. From a 
foal upwanls, this remarkable animal had been the idlest 
and most sluirvjish of his race. Whatever capacities for 
speed he might possess he had kept so strictly to himself, 
that no amount of training had ever brought them oQt. 
lie had been found hopelessly slow as a racer, and hope- 
lessly lazy as a hunter, and was fit for nothing but a quiet, 
ea>v life of it with an old jjentlemen or an invalid. When 
I heard this account of the horse, I don't mind confessing 
1 that mv heart wanned to him. Visions of Thomas Idle 
' ambling serenely on the back of a steed as lazy as himself, 
presenting to a restless world the soothing and composite 
spectacle of a kind of sluggardly Centaur, too peaceable 
in his htibits to alarm anybody, swam attractively before 
my eyes. I wont to look at the horse in the stable. 
Nice fellow I he was fast asleep, with a kitten on his back. 
I saw him taken out for an airing by the groom. If he 
bad the trousers on bis leirs, I should not have known 
them from my own, so deliberately were they lifted up, so 
gently were they put down, so slowly did they get over 
the ground. From that moment, I gratefully accepted 
my friend's offer. I went home ; the horse followed me 
— by a slow train. Oh, Francis, how devotedly I be- 
lieved in that horse! how carefully Hooked after all his 
little comforts ! I bad never gone the length of hiring a 
nian-servant to wait on myself ; but I went to the expense 
of hiring one to wait upon him. If I thought a little of 
niys(ilf, when I bought the softest saddle that could be had 
for money, 1 thought also of my horse. When the man 
at the shop afterwards offered me spurs and a whip, I 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 285 

turned from him with horror. When I sallied out for my 
first ride, I went purposely unarmed with the means of 
hurrying my steed. He proceeded at his own pace every 
step of his way ; and when he stopped at last, and blew 
out both his sides with a heavy sigh and turned his sleepy 
head and looked behind him, I took him home again, as I 
might take home an artless child who said to me, ' If you 
please, sir, I am tired.' For a week, this complete har- 
mony between me and my horse lasted undisturbed. At 
the end of that time, when he had made quite sure of my 
friendly confidence in his laziness, when he had thoroughly 
acquainted himself with all the little weaknesses of my seat 
(and their name is Legion), the smouldering treachery and 
ingratitude of the equine nature blazed out in an instant. 
Without the slightest provocation from me, with nothing 
passing him at the time but a pony-chaise driven by an old 
lady, he started in one instant from a state of sluggish de- 
pression to a state of frantic high spirits. He kicked, he 
plunged, he shied, he pranced, he capered fearfully. I sat 
on him as long as I could, and when I could sit no longer, 
I fell off. No, Francis ! this is not a circumstance to be 
laughed at, but to be wept over. What would be said of a 
Man'who had requited my kindness in that way ? Range 
over all the rest of the animal creation, and where will 
you find me an instance of treachery so black as this ? 
The cow that kicks down the milking-pail may have some 
reason for it ; she may think herself taxed too heavily to 
contribute to the dilution of human tea and the greasing 
of human bread. The tiger who springs out on me un- 
awares has the excuse of being hungry at the time, to say 
nothing of the further justification of being a total stran- 
ger to me. The very flea who surprises me in my sleep 
may defend his act of assassination on the ground that I, 
in my turn, am always ready to murder him when I am 
awake. I defy the whole body of Natural Historians to 



286 THE LAZY TOUR OP 

move me, logically, off the ground that I have taken in 
regard to the horse. Receive back your hat, Brothei 
Francis, and go to the chemist's, if you please ; for I 
have now done. Ask me to take anything you like, ex- 
cept an interest in the Doncaster races. Ask me to look 
at anything you like, except an assemblage of people all 
animated by feelings of a friendly and admiring nature 
towards the horse. You are a remarkably well-informed 
man, and you have heard of hermits. L*ook upon me as 
a member of that ancient fraternity, and you will sensi- 
bly add to the many obligations which Thomas Idle is 
proud to owe to Francis Goodchild." 

Here, fatigued by the effort of excessive talking, dis- 
putatious Thomas waved one hand languidly, laid his head 
back on the sofa-pillow, and calmly closed his eyes. 

At a latter period, Mr. Goodchild assailed his travel 
ling companion boldly, from the impregnable fortress of 
common sense. But Thomas, though tamed in body hy 
drastic discipline, was still as mentally unapproachable as 
ever on the subject of his favorite delusion. 

The view from the window after Saturday's breakfast 
is altogether cliaugecl. The tradesmen's families have all 
come back again. The serious stationer's young woman 
of all work is shaking a duster out of the window of the 
combination breakfast-room ; a child is playing with a 
doll, where Mr. Thurtell's hair was brushed ; a sanitary 
scrubbing is in progress on the spot where Mr. Palmer's 
braces were put on. No signs of the Races are in the 
streets, but the tramps and the tumble-down carts and 
trucks laden with drinking-forms and tables and remnants 
of booths that are making their way out of the town as 
fast as they can. The Angel, which has been cleared for 
action all the w^eek, already begins restoring every neat 
and comfortable article of furniture to its own neat and 
comfortable place. The Angel's daughters (pleasanter 



TWO IDLE APPRENTICES. 287 

angels Mr. Groodchild never saw, nor more quietly expert 
iu their business, nor more superior to the common vice 
of being above it) have a little time to rest, and to air 
their cheerful faces among the flowers in the yard. It is 
market-day. The market looks unusually natural, com- 
fortable, and wholesome; the market-people too. The 
town seems quite restored, when, hark I a metallic bray— 
The Grong-donkey ! 

The wretched animal has not cleared ^ff with the rest, 
but is here, under the window. How much more incon- 
ceivably drunk now, how much more begrimed of 
paw, how much more tight of calico hide, how much 
more stained and daubed and dirty and dunghilly, from 
his horrible broom to his tender toes, who shall say! He 
cannot even shake the bray out of himself now, without 
laying his cheek so near to the mud of the street that he 
pitches over after delivering i£. Now, prone in the mud, 
and now backing himself up against shop-windows, the 
owners of which come out in terror to move him ; now, in 
the drinking-shop, and now in the tobacconist's where he 
goes to buy tobacco, and makes his way into the parlor, 
and where he gets a cigar, which in half-a-minute he for- 
gets to smoke ; now dancing, now complimenting My Lord, 
the Colonel, the Noble Captain, and Your Honorable 
Worship, the Gong-donkcy kicks up his heels, occasion- 
ally braying, until suddenly he beholds the dearest friend 
he has in the world coming down the street. 

The dearest frienl the Gong-donkey has in the world, 
is a sort of Jackall, in a dull mangy black hide, of such 
small pieces that it look as if it were made of blacking bot- 
tles turned inside out and cobbled together. The dearest 
friend in the world (inconceivably drunk too) advances 
at the Grong-donkey, with a hand on each thigh, in a series 
of humorous springs and stops, wagging his head as he 

comes. The Gong-donkey regarding him with attention* 

13 



288 THE LAZT TOUB OF TWO IDLB APPRENTICES. 

and with the warmest affection, suddenly perceives that be 
is the greatest enemy he has in the world, and hits him 
hard in the countenance. The astonished Jackall closes with 
Donkey, and they roll over and over in the mud, pummelling 
one another. A Police Inspector, supernaturally endow- 
ed with patience, who has long been looking on from the 
Guildhall-steps, says, to a myrmidon," Lock 'em up ! Bring 
'em in 1*' 

Appropriate finish to the Grand Race Week. The Grong- 
donkey, captive and last trace of it, conveyed into limbo, 
where they cannot do better than keep him until next Race 
Week. The Jackall is wanted too, and is much looked 
for, over the way and up and down. But, having had the 
good-fortune to be undermost at the time of the capture, 
he has vanished into air. 

On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Goodchild walks out and 
looks at the Course. It is quite deserted ; heaps of 
broken crockery and bottles are raised to its memory; 
and correct cards and other fragments of paper are blow- 
ing about it, as the regulation little paper-books, carried by 
the French soldiers in their breasts, were seen, soon after 
the battle was fought, blowing idly about the plains of 
Waterloo. 

Where will these present idle leaves be blown by the 
idle winds, and where will the last of them be one day, lost 
and forgotten ? An idle question, and an idle thought ; and 
with it Mr. Idle fitly makes his bow, and Mr. Goodchild 
his, and thus ends the Lazy Tour of Two Idle Appren- 
tices. 



THE END. 



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